Oil on English oak panel, 724 x 533 mm
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)
This is a copy of a portrait of Erasmus by Hans Holbein. Appropriately, he is shown in the company of books, for the reputation he enjoyed as the foremost intellectual and humanist of his day was thanks in no small part to his brilliant use of the printing press. Realizing that, with it, he could reach large audiences with affordable books, he produced the first European bestsellers: Adages, a slim collection of proverbs, first published in 1500, and his satire In Praise of Folly, written in just one week in 1509 and first published in 1511.