Final Thoughts

Three Sets of Portraits–or Two?

The previous material discusses three sets of portraits: the Penig versions acquired by the Stadtkirche in 1848; the pair owned by Herr von Schreiberhofen and recorded in Schuchardt’s 1871 inventory; and the treated panels from the collection of the Muskegon Museum of Art. But were there actually three sets of portraits, or just two? A re-examination of Schuchardt’s 1871 entries offers promising evidence for the latter.

His Luther entry records: signed and dated 1537, three-quarters profile turned to the right with short hair and dark beard, in black garment, with both hands holding a swordgrip, green background, in the lower left corner a coat of arms probably from earlier owners. The inscriptions are also noted. For his Katharina entry, Schuchardt documents the inscription and: half-length portrait with crossed arms, lower-right signature. These details all parallel Muskegon’s portraits.

After Treatment

After Treatment

Initially, the entries seemed to include two discrepancies. First, Schuchardt documented the Luther panel as: 2 feet 7 inches high, 2 feet 1 inch wide (or H. 31” x W. 25”). The Muskegon panel, however, is H. 20” x W. 14,” exactly 11 inches smaller on both the height and width. How could these be the same paintings? The disparity is easily reconciled if Schuchardt included the frame in his measurements, not an unknown practice, resulting in the same difference for both the height and width.

Second, in the Katharina entry Schuchardt noted: It has the same coat-of-arms painted in the upper right. This “discrepancy” could explain the wavy outline of thin paint in the upper-right corner of Muskegon’s Katharina: the area used to contain the matching coat-of-arms. (26) With these considerations, Schuchardt’s entries read as mirror images of the Muskegon portraits.

Luther Coat of Arms

Katharina Upper Right Corner

Provenancial Review

Other circumstantial evidence lends support for two sets of portraits. First, a background check on Herr von Schreiberhofen–Mr. von Schreiberhofen–is in order. Schuchardt records von Schreiberhofen’s name in the Dresden section of his book without forename or identifying information, as if he were a known figure, but all research on the name Schreiberhofen only linked back to Schuchardt’s book. Something seemed to be wrong.

1871 Schuchardt Entry

The later 1890 inventory referenced Schuchardt’s entries but listed the owner as Herrn von Schreibershofen–Mr. von Schreibershofen–with an “s” before the final “h.” The  word Herr or Herrn can be spelled either way, but the Schreibershofen was initially discounted as a misspelling of Schuchardt’s text. This was wrong.

1890 Inventory Entry

Maximilian von Schreibershofen was a well-known general in the Saxon army. He was born in 1785 and died in Dresden in 1881, making him eighty-seven at the time of Schuchardt’s publication and possibly living in Dresden, the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony. Schreibershofen had a long military career and was a recipient of the Knight's Cross and the Legion of Honor. The fiftieth anniversary of his promotion to the rank of general was even recorded in American newspapers. (27)

A 1918 article by Julius Vogel also documents “Schreibershofen in Dresden” as the owner of a Cranach “Junkers Georg,” but at the time of his publication the portrait’s location was “nicht mehr nachweisbar,” or unknown. (28) No later references to Schreibershofen’s paintings were found and, for almost 100 years, the portraits’ whereabouts have been nicht mehr nachweisbar.

1918 Vogel Entry

The Muskegon Museum of Art cites previous owners of the two portraits as Count Franz Vetter van der Lilie, Vienna; the E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York; the Drey Collection, Munich; the Steinmeyer Collection, Berlin; and, again, the E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, but the museum does not possess records to support any of these “owners.” Also, there are no references linking these collections to a Luther or Katharina portrait. It is more than curious that Schreibershofen’s paintings “disappear” by 1918 and the Muskegon portraits emerge in 1939 without any known documentation.

In Conclusion

While Cranach and his studio painted multiple versions of Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, it’s hard to believe that the Schreibershofen pair and the Muskegon portraits are not one and the same. The paintings are likely 1537 studio pieces from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder. With the lost coat of arms, the provenance in question, and the missing inscriptions rediscovered, the Cranach mystery has been solved...well, almost.

Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Martin Luther" (1537)
The Muskegon Museum of Art
Muskegon, Michigan

Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Katharina von Bora" (1537)
The Muskegon Museum of Art
Muskegon, Michigan

Page 9--Endnotes

Index Page,   Page 1--Introduction,   Page 2--Short Biographies,   Page 3--Examination,   Page 4--Treatment,
Page 5--The Hunt,   Page 6--The Inscriptions,   Page 7--The Rose,   Page 8--Final Thoughts,
Page 9--Endnotes


26. There also seemed to be a third discrepancy. In the Luther entry, Schuchardt noted the location of the upper inscription as: To the left written above. The inscription though is in the upper right; however Schuchardt also states that the coat of arms is in the opposite lower left-hand corner. This latter statement would place the inscription in the upper-right corner, not the left. This contradiction could be a printing error or an error in Schuchardt's records. Compositionally, an upper-right text balances Katharina’s upper-left inscription as the sitters turn toward each other.

27. Biographical information from accessed 7/6/14; accessed 7/11/14; and accessed 7/11/14.

28. Vogel, Julius. “Luther as Junker Georg.” accessed 7/2/14, originally published in Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, Neue Folge 29, Bd. 53. 1918. S.57-65 (Journal of Visual Arts, New Series 29, Vol. 53. 1918. pp.57-65).



Barry Bauman Conservation
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