Hans Holbein the Younger - Sir William Butts, about 1541-1543

Hans Holbein the Younger (Augsburg, 1497 or 1498 - 1543, London)

Sir William Butts, about 1541-1543

Oil on panel, 46.8 x 37 cm (18 7/16 x 14 9/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number



  • Hans Holbein The Younger (Augsburg, 1497 or 1498 - 1543, London) - primary
  • Sir William Butts (Norwich, England, 1485 - 1545, London) - subject


Collection of the politician William Henry Pole-Carew (1811-1888) of Antony House at Cornwall, England by 1880. (with the pendant portrait of Lady Margaret (Bacon) Butts, museum no. P21e5)
By descent to Sir Reginald Pole-Carew (1849-1924) of Antony House at Cornwall, England in 1888.
Purchased by the art dealers Colnaghi & Co., London from Sir Reginald Pole-Carew for possibly £16,000 in 1899. (as a set with museum no. P21e5)
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from Colnaghi & Co., London for £17,000 or £20,000 in June 1899 through the American art historian Bernard Berenson (1865–1959). (as a set with museum no. P21e5)


Inscription (restored on blue-grey background): ANNO · AETATS · SVE · LIX ·
Seal (on back): demy unicorn issuant out of a coronet

Dimension Notes

Frame: 70.5 x 61 cm (27 3/4 x 24 in.)


Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 15.
Malcolm Vaughan. "Holbein Portraits in America: Part II." International Studio (December 1927), pp. 68, 94.
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of the Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 187-89, ill.
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 173.
Paul Ganz. The Paintings of Hans Holbein (London, 1950), p. 255.
Roy J. Popkin. "Doctors Afield: Sir William Butts." New England Journal of Medicine (6 July 1961), pp. 32-33, fig. 1.
Gail Black. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 6, no. 3 (16 Sept. 1962), p. 2.
Roy C. Strong. "Holbein's Cartoon for the Barber-Surgeons' Group Rediscovered: A Preliminary Report." The Burlington Magazine (January 1963), p. 7.
Roy C. Strong. National Portrait Gallery: Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, vol. I (London, 1969), p. 33-34.
Hans Werner Grohn and Roberto Salvini. L'Opera pittorica completa di Hans Holbein il giovane (Milan, 1971), no. 142.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 121-24, ill.
John Walsh Jr. "Paintings in the Dutch Room" in James Thomas Herbert Baily (ed.). The Connoisseur: An Illustrated Magazine for Collectors, "Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum" (London, 1978), pp. 60-61, fig. 9.
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 1981), pp. 76-77, ill.
Jane Roberts. Drawings by Holbein from the Court of Henry VIII: Fifty Drawings from the Collection of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor Castle. Exh. cat. (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1987), p. 104, no. 34.
Rollin van N. Hadley (ed.). The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner 1887-1924 (Boston, 1987), pp. 166-69, 171-72, 177, 179, 205.
Maryan Ainsworth. "'Paternes for phiosioneamyes': Holbein's portraiture reconsidered." The Burlington Magazine (March 1990), pp. 181-82.
Hilliard Goldfarb. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: A Companion Guide and History (Boston, 1995), pp. 101-02, ill.
Susan Foister. "The Production and Reproduction of Holbein's Portraits" in Karen Hearn (ed.). Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630 (New York, 1996), pp. 22-23.
Alan Chong. "The Afterlife of Cellini's Bust of Bindo Altoviti" in Alan Chong et al. Raphael, Cellini & A Renaissance Banker: The Patronage of Bindo Altoviti. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Florence: Museo Nazionale del Bargello, 2003), pp. 250, 261, no. 84.
Susan Foister. Holbein & England (New Haven, 2004), pp. 24-25, 66-67, fig. 70, 227, 231.
Susan Foister. Holbein in England. Exh. cat. (London: Tate Britain, 2006), pp. 117, 149, nos. 129, 163.
Cynthia Saltzman. Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), pp, 83-84, 88.
Alan Chong. "Isabella Gardner, Bernard Berenson, and Otto Gutekunst" in Jeremy Howard (ed.). Colnaghi: The History (London, 2010), p. 31, fig. 8.
Linda J. Docherty. "Translating Dante: Isabella Stewart Gardner's Museum as Paradiso." Religion and the Arts (2018), p. 210.
Jeremy Howard. "Selling Botticelli to America: Colnaghi, Bernard Berenson and the Sale of the Madonna of the Eucharist to Isabella Stewart Gardner." Colnaghi Studies 4 (March 2019), p. 147.

Rights and reproductions

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Hans Holbein the Younger is most famous as the portraitist to the court of Henry VIII. Holbein’s sober yet quietly sensitive images found great favor during the artist’s sojourns in London from 1526 to 1528 and from 1532 until the end of his life. William Butts (1485-1545) was a physician to Henry VIII and this portrait is one of a pair with his wife, Margaret Bacon, Lady Butts, also on view in the Dutch Room. In 1541, Holbein began the large group portrait, King Henry VIII Grants the Charter to the Barber-Surgeons, in which William Butts appears in the group of royal surgeons on the King’s right side. This single portrait was most likely done after Sir William was knighted in 1544.


Francesco Bartolozzi

Margaret Bacon, Lady Butts

Hans Holbein the Younger

Lady Margaret (Bacon) Butts