The UK’s ‘ rule of six’ for Covid wouldn’t have stopped Franz Schubert from enjoying himself. He liked nothing better than making music with a few of his friends. Frustrated at still living with his parents and reluctantly obliged to teach in his father’s school, young Franz composed music as if he were a man possessed. He was never happier than when he was recreating poems as songs and sharing them with his small group of intimates. These get-togethers were nicknamed “Schubertiaden”, which meant evenings of collaborative enjoyment and music-making. It was Schubert’s friends who drew out and nurtured his talent.
Holbein’s tiny portrait projects us into a private moment in the life of an ordinary middle-class woman living in the reign of Henry VIII.