In Holbein's Studio [Sir Thomas More and his daughter Margaret Roper in Holbein's Studio], by John Evan Hodgson (1831-1895). 1861. Oil on canvas. 36 x 28 inches (91.5 x 71 cm). © Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage. Collection of Wolverhampton Art Gallery, accession no. OP537. Image reproduced via Art UK for the purpose of non-commercial research. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

There is some controversy as to whether or not this is the painting Hodgson exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1861, A Visit to Holbein's Studio - Sir Thomas More and his daughters looking at his portrait, no. 608. The title definitely mentions daughters not daughter. It would certainly appear that In Holbein's Studio was not the painting shown at the Royal Academy that year based on F. G. Stephens' description in The Athenaeum:

Mr. J. E. Hodgson has a clever work on the subject of A Visit to Holbein's Studio (608), – Sir Thomas More and his daughters looking at the famous portrait of Sir Thomas himself. It stands on the easel, before which sits the original, pleased, sedate, and wondering. The charmed daughters stand by, lost in admiration. Holbein, gratified and sturdily sincere, looks on. The expressions are good in all these heads; but, in execution, the flesh is not solidly modelled and rather dirty in tint – would bear a good deal more working on and come out improved. There is much about this picture to be liked, notwithstanding the thin and impatient workmanship it exhibits. Mr. Hodgson may make or mar an artist according as he prefers persistent labour to easy facility of study. [666-67]

In Holbein's Studio shows Thomas More standing rather than sitting, and only one of his daughters is present, who is undoubtedly his favourite daughter Margaret Roper.

A description of the Royal Academy exhibit in The Spectator, however, makes us wonder if Stephens gave an accurate account of the painting because this periodical describes the painting as: "A Visit to Holbein's Studio (608), which gives evidence of versatile powers. Holbein, bluff and burly, is showing the portrait of Sir Thomas More to him and his daughter. Their expressions are easy and natural, though the daughter might have been more beautiful and the father more dignified. Sobriety of treatment and sound painting are very commendable features in this work" (587). In support of this Tom Taylor, in reviewing Hodgson's early work, remarked on the Royal Academy picture: "In 1861, Mr. Hodgson struck his first historical note in a picture of Sir Thomas More's daughter, Margaret Roper, in Holbein's studio" (17).

Holbein's portrait of More shown on the easel is now in the Frick Collection in New York. Holbein's features were likely taken from his self-portrait in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, while those of Margaret Roper and her headdress were based on Holbein's miniature portrait of her now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In the background of the studio hanging on the wall can be seen Holbein's famous Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam Writing of 1523, now in the Louvre in Paris.

In Holbein's Studio epitomizes Hodgson's connection with the St. John's Wood Clique who were fond of painting historical genre paintings from the Tudor period. Hodgson's great friend W. F. Yeames, for example, exhibited The Meeting of Sir Thomas More with his Daughter after his Sentence of Death at the Royal Academy in 1863. From 1862 to 1864 Hodgson painted a number of other historical genre paintings dealing with the Tudor period before virtually abandoning this phase of his career.


“Fine Arts. Royal Academy.” The Spectator XXIV (June 1, 1861): 586-87.

In Holbein's Studio. Art UK. Web. 16 January 2024.

Stephens, Frederic George. "Fine Arts. Royal Academy." The Athenaeum No. 1751 (18 May 1861): 665-68.

Taylor, Tom. "English Painters of the Present Day. XIX - J. E. Hodgson." The Portfolio II (1871): 17-19.

Created 16 January 2024