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Terminus, the Device of Erasmus

Terminus, the Device of Erasmus

c. 1532

Hans Holbein

(German, 1497/98-1543)

Oil on wood

Framed: 32.4 x 32.4 x 4.5 cm (12 3/4 x 12 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.); Unframed: 21.6 x 21.6 cm (8 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.)

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Sherman E. Lee in memory of Milton S. Fox 1971.166

Description

In the spirit of the Italian Renaissance, Erasmus of Rotterdam (c. 1466–1536), the celebrated Dutch humanist and scholar, embraced ancient Greek and Roman literature and incorporated much of its moral and ethical messages into his own work. Holbein here conflates Erasmus’s features with Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries, who defied Jupiter by maintaining his position atop Capitoline Hill. Erasmus adopted Terminus, along with the motto concedo nulli (I concede to no one), as a personal symbol for devotion and steadfastness.

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