The Ambassadors by Holbein

JEAN DE DINTEVILLE, ambassador of France to England, is now little but a name in dictionaries of art and biography; Georges de Selve, ambassador of France to the great Emperor Charles V, has the added notation that he was bishop of Lavour.

The Holbein portrait of "The Ambassadors" is obviously an uninspired work; its authenticity is questioned. It brings to mind how cautious we must be of accepting by their label of authorship all of the many poorer or quite worthless works that are attributed to the masters. Homer will nod. Under the pressure of necessity he will descend to work unworthy of himself. He will release from his workshop work that is not of his own hand. Or--and Leonardo "The Last Supper" is but one of many cases in point--the work of restorers may have obliterated the last trace of the master's handiwork. Let us be cautious, and, in regard to "The Ambassadors," admit it to be unworthy of a master painter's hand.

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