A personal document of the Holbein family and one whose intimacy possesses a unique attraction for us: the father, one of the great painters of his time, portrays his young sons, who were highly gifted painters themselves. At the left, we see the delicate Ambrosius, approximately twenty, and, at the right, Hans the Younger, who was to become one of the greatest German painters of all – to be ranked only among Dürer or Matthias Grünewald. His round, energetic face can still be recognized in the late self-portrait (Uffizi Gallery, Florence) that was created shortly before his death in 1543.
The present silverpoint drawing belongs to a great number of similar sheets, which probably formed sketchbooks at one time. Various contemporaries are portrayed, including figures as prominent as Emperor Maximilian I, the young Charles V, and several members of the Fugger family.