The Ambassadors- Blog 5

March 31st, 2011

In Holbein’s painting “The Ambassadors” there are two men portrayed. One of the men appears to be of a higher class than the other because of his fashion and accessories. From this image the viewer can assume that Henry James’ novel The Ambassadors will have two main male characters. The two globes in the image seem to portray that travel and exploration would is a major theme of the book. The man on the left seems to portray European royalty, whereas the man on the right is more modestly dressed and is more mysterious. This image does not fully explain who the men are, what their relationship is or what “ambassadorial” business they are on.
Reading the first too books of the novel allows me to assume that the man on the right is Mr. Waymarsh and the man on the left is Mr. Strether. After reading I can make this assumption because Strether explains to Miss Gostrey that Waymarsh is much more financially successful than himself. They way the man are positioned is also representative of their friendship. The globes in the painting can also depict the traveling between America and Europe, which we learn is a theme of these first two books. What I previously assumed before reading the first two books, and just by viewing the painting was that these men were European, but the novel explains that they are Americans in Europe.
Holbein’s painting seems to be reflecting themes and characters in James’ novel, yet the painting does not giving away any part of the story. You must read the novel to understand what the symbols in the painting are meant to represent. Like James’ explains his words give a better expression than just simply viewing an image, which could represent a number of things.

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