- Museum number
St Margaret and St Dorothy; whole-length figures of the two crowned saints, St Margaret at left holding a long cross and standing over a dragon, St Dorothy at r, looking to front, and holding a basket of flowers
Pen and black ink, with grey wash, heightened with white bodycolour; on light brown prepared paper
Watermark: the upper half of a bull's head
- Production date
- 1494-1496 (circa)
Height: 210 millimetres
Width: 153 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Edited from J.Rowlands 'Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German-speaking regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum: the Fifteenth Century, and the Sixteenth Century by Artists born before 1530', London, BM Press, 1993, no. 299:
This is a particularly fine example, in excellent condition, of Holbein the Elder's early drawing style. The drawing displays the artist's characteristically delicate touch and is comparable in quality and technique to his drawing of St Peter and St Paul, inscribed "H", in Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ. 12238; Augsburg, 'Holbein', pl. 69). This drawing must have been made at some time before 1496, as it is connected with figures on the wing of an altarpiece executed in that year for the Abbot's chapel in the abbey of Sts Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, by Gumpolt Giltlinger (d. 1522), a follower of Holbein ('Zeitschr. f. Kunstwiss.', xxx, 1976, pp. 4ff, pl. 2). The wing is the only part of the altarpiece to have survived and is much overpainted; its outer side shows St Catherine, St Barbara, St Margaret and St Dorothy. The designs of the latter two saints are clearly inspired by Holbein's drawing. A further drawing related to the altarpiece, 'St Catherine and St Barbara' was sold at the Sutton sale in the same lot as the present drawing (formerly Koenigs Collection, Haarlem, now returned to Rotterdam; see T. Falk, 'Zeitschr.f. Kunstwiss'., xxx, 1976, pp. 8ff, repr.; Albert J.Elen, 'German Master Drawings from the Koenings Collection: Return of a Lost Treasure', published in connection with an exhibition at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 9 July - 26 September, 2004, no. 40). It is similar in technique but not in the same hand as the present drawing. Schilling attributed it to Thoman Burgkmair (OMD, no. 31, 1933, pp. 48f. repr.) with reference to the outside of the left-hand wing of an altarpiece, 'St Barbara(?) and St Catherine', painted for the convent of St Catherine, now in the Augsburg Staatsgalerie (inv. no. 5323); but the positions of the figures seem to relate more closely to those of St Catherine and St Barbara in Giltlinger's altarpiece and Falk's suggestion that the sheet may be by Giltlinger himself is plausible.
In the Kupferstichkabinett, Basel, there are two copies of the present sheet (U.VII..20, 'St Margaret (?)' shown without attributes; and U.VII..34, 'St Dorothy'; see T. Falk 'Katalog der Zeichnungen des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts im Kupferstichkabinett Basel' Teil I, Basel, Stuttgart, 1979, pp. 87, 88, nos. 189, 192, repr.) and five further drawings of inferior quality produced in Holbein's workshop, which also display standing female figures close in appearance to those on Giltlinger's altarpiece. For a discussion of the relationship between the figure of St Margaret and its use by Israhel van Meckenem for the figure of the Virgin in his engraving of the 'Marriage of the Virgin' (Lehrs 53) see Brahms, 2016.
Lit. from Rowlands 1993: C. Dodgson, OMD, no. 4, 1927, pp. 56f, pl. 66; Augsburg, Holbein, p. 103, no. 69, pl. 68; Israhel van Meckenem, p. 56, repr.; T. Falk, Zeitschr.f. Kunstwiss., xxx, 1976, pp. 7ff., pl. 1; Falk, Basel, p. 87, under no. 190, p. 88, under no. 192; BM Dürer and Holbein, p. 189, no. 160, repr.
Additional lit: Katharine Krause, 'Hans Holbein der Ältere', Berlin, 2002, pp 46,192, fig.127; Elsbeth Wiemann, 'Hans Holbein der Ältere, die Grauer Passion in ihrer Zeit;, exhibition catalogue. Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, 2011, pp282-3, cat.no 60; Iris Brahms, 'Zwischen Licht und Schatten: zur Tradition der Farbgrundzeichnung bis Albrecht Dürer', Paderborn 2016, pp. 104-6; col.pl. II.6
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984 BM, Master Drawings & Watercolours, no. 54
1988 July-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 160
2007 Jan-March, BM, German Masterpieces (Gallery 90)
2010/11 Nov-March, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Hans Holbein I, no.60
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number