Renaissance man comes home (UK)

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An intimate pen and ink drawing of Sir Thomas More at home with the family is returning to Britain for the first time since it was given as a present to the humanist scholar Erasmus almost 500 years ago. The inclusion of the Hans Holbein drawing has generated excitement at Tate Britain, which opens its autumn blockbuster, Holbein in England, on Thursday.

It was made in 1526 and became an 8ft by 13ft painting which ended up hanging on the walls of a castle in what is now the Czech Republic until it was destroyed in a fire in the 18th century.

Soon after completing it, Holbein took it to Switzerland and gave it to More's friend Erasmus, so he could see how the family was getting on. Erasmus adored it and said it made him feel as if he was back in the Chelsea household. It has remained in Basel, Switzerland, ever since and has been lent by the city's Kunstmuseum. "It is amazingly exciting to have it here in London," said the show's curator, Susan Foister. "The painting's destruction was very sad but at least we have this wonderful drawing which gives us a good idea of the composition and the background in what was the family home in Chelsea."

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