Sr Iohn Godsalue

I bought this picture for its frame at a yard sale ten years ago.  I never was sure of the subject.  He looked like a younger Erasmus, I thought, but with a weaker chin and stronger nose.  Whoever he was, I meant to swap him out for a print of Shakespeare or Montaigne, but it’s taken me a decade to get around to it.  It wasn’t an easy eviction.  The frame is really three frames in one and the whole of the back was sealed in brown paper.  Whoever originally put him there had gone to some trouble.  I felt like a thief stealing a god from his temple.  But who was he?  At the top left of the print I could barely make out some lettering: ‘[o]hn G[o]dsal[uc].’  The surname looked vaguely Germanic, but the first name (what there was of it) suggested the English ‘John.’  I consulted the Oracle (Google) and found my answer.  The subject was Sir John Godsalve, merchant and courtier.  The artist was Hans Holbein the Younger.  The original resides in the Royal Collection.

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