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Attributed to Amberger, Christoph (German painter, born ca. 1505, died 1561 or 1562) , Portrait of a Lady

Core Record

Title Portrait of a Lady
Alternative Title Portrait of Anna Selber, Wife of Sebastian Münster[?]
Collection Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums): Kelvingrove Museum
Artist Attributed to Amberger, Christoph (German painter, born ca. 1505, died 1561 or 1562)
Previously attributed to Pencz, Georg (German painter, draftsman, and engraver, ca. 1500-1550)
Date Earliest about 1530
Date Latest about 1550
Description The lady portrayed in this German Renaissance painting is wearing a style of high-necked dress popular in southern Germany and Switzerland in the sixteenth century. Recently, it has been proposed that the lady can be identified with the wife of the famous cosmographer Sebastian Münster (1488-1552), Anna Selber. Münster, who spent most of his life in Basel, married Anna when she was a widow, in 1529-30. If the identification is correct this portrait would once have been paired with the portrait of Münster in the Berlin Gemäldegalerie, documented in the cabinet of Paulus Praun at Nuremberg as early as 1616.
Current Accession Number 200
Inscription front ll 'HOLBEIN . F.' (false signature); front lr 'C. AMBERGER AVG[...]' (both on a red stripe at the bottom of the painting)
Subject figure; portrait (Anna Selber, wife of Sebastian Münster[?])
Measurements 53.6 x 41.9 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Archibald McLellan 1854.
Provenance Possibly Paulus Praun, Nuremberg; Sebastian Münster, Berlin (;, documented, inv. 1616, no. 131; inv. 1719, no. 182); probably Anton Paul Heinlein, Nuremberg; anon. sale Kunsthandlung Johann Andreas Boerner, Nuremberg, 1832, cat. p. 15, no. 119; probably Bernhard, Munich.
Principal Exhibitions Exhibition of Early German Art, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1906, cat. no. 32, p. 203, as by Amberg; Between Renaissance and Baroque: European Art 1520-1600, Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester, 1965, cat. no. 6.
Publications Murr, Ch. G. v., Beschreibung der vornehmsten Merkwuerdigkeiten in des H. R. Reichs freyen Stadt Nuernberg, Nuremberg, 1778, p. 474; Stetten, P. v., Kunst- Gewerb- und Handwerksgeschichte der Reichsstadt Augsburg: Zweiter Theil oder Nachtrag, Augsburg, 1788, p. 188; Murr, Ch. T. de, Description du Cabinet de Monsieur Paul de Praun à Nuremberg, Nuremberg, 1797, p. 23; The McLellan Gallery: Catalogue of Pictures Bequeathed to the People of Glasgow by the late Archibald McLellan, 1855, 'Centre Room: German Pictures', no. 119, p.12, as 'John or Hans Holbein'; Waagen, G. F., Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain ... Forming a Supplemental Volume to the Treasures of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, p. 461, as 'School of Albert Durer - probably by Georg Pencz'; Haasler, E., Der Maler Christoff Amberger von Augsburg, Königsberg, 1894, pp. 50, 130, no. 35; Dutch and Flemish Netherlandish and German Paintings, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums, 1961, vol. 1, text, p. 15; vol. 2, illustrations, p. 113; Löcher, K., 'Amberger, Christoph', SAUR: Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Munich and Leipzig, 1992, p. 123; Achilles-Syndram, K., Die Kunstsammlung des Paulus Praun: Die Inventare von 1616 und 1717, ed. Stadtarchiv Nürnberg (Quellen zur Geschichte und Kultur der Stadt Nürnberg, 25), Nuremberg, 1994, pp. 122, 217; Kranz, A., Amberger: Bildnismaler aus Augsburg: Städtische Eliten im Spiegel ihrer Porträts, Regensburg, 2004, no. 47, pp. 370-71, 367-69, as Amberger.

Blue bordered label on top traverse cradle member, centre, handwritten in black ink '59'; Manchester exhibition label on frame which is undoubtedly not an original one, in pencil 'KF II B', and an old printed label 'C8'.

The 1882 catalogue 'compiled by James Paton' assigning it to the School of Holbein rejects the traditional attribution to Holbein himself, citing the opinion of Waagen: 'A fine but unfortunately over-cleaned picture of the school of Albert Durer - probably by George Penz. The ground is green. The name of Holbein given to it is false.' In the 1885 edition it is attributed to an unidentified artist of 'Early German School', later (correctly) to Amberger. The attribution to Amberger - before the signature was revealed - apparently goes back to an annotation by the Berlin Museum director Wilhelm Bode in the 1892 edition of J. Paton's Catalogue descriptive and historical of the pictures and sculpture in the Corporative Galleries of Art, Glasgow (no. 7A): 'Dr. Bode, who points out the similarity of treatment in the known works of Amberger in the Berlin Gallery, considers this portrait to be an excellent example of Amberger's work.

Annette Kranz proposed the identification of the subject with Anna Selber, and suggested the Glasgow picture as a pendant to the portrait of Münster conserved in Berlin (Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Inv.Nr. 583), documented in the Praun collection from 1616. Her main arguments are the similarities both in the size of the paintings and in style of execution. This identification, however, causes some problems. The first is that the inventories of the Praun cabinet contain no entry for a portrait of Anna Selber. This forces Kranz to identify the Portrait of a Lady in the Glasgow Museums with a female portrait that is documented in the Praun collection as a portrait of the family member Anna Selber and to assume a case of mistaken identity in the description of this picture. The other problem is the age of the subject. The exact date of birth of Anna Selber is not known but she seems to have been born about 1490-95. Münster married her about 1529 or 1530, when he was aged over forty and she was a widow. The Berlin portrait of Münster was painted when, as the inscription says, he was an old man of sixty-five, which is not the case with the lady. Unfortunatly technical examinations of both panels thave not been caried out, nor does it seem that they have ever been compared directly, side by side. The identification must therefore remain hypothetical until there is further evidence.

Rights Owner Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums)
Author Dr Heiner Krellig



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