- Museum number
Studies for the wings of an altarpiece with St Ulrich and St Afra; comprising two panels with Saint Ulrich standing at l, Saint Afra bound and tied to a burning tree at r, with two further panels containing couples below
Pen and brown ink, with grey wash
- Production date
- 1552-1554 (circa)
Height: 303 millimetres
Width: 209 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Summary of 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. 56:
This is a preparatory study by Amberger for the wings of his high altarpiece of Augsburg cathedral (still there, but now in a chapel in the north choir aisle; K. Löcher, ‘Munich Jahrbuch’, op. cit., p. 45, repr.) executed in 1554 to replace the one of 1508/9 by Hans Holbein the Elder, which had been destroyed by iconoclasts in 1537. Holbein's altarpiece served not only as a focus of devotion but also as a cover for the silver altar executed by Jörg Seld (c. 1448-1527) that was only displayed on feast days and was destroyed with Holbein's altarpiece (A. Schröder, ‘Munich Jahrbuch’, NF, vii, 1930, pp. III-24). From Holbein's preparatory drawing (National Museum, Gdansk (Danzig), inv. no. Kbr. 7863; Augsburg, 'Holbein', pl. 78), it is clear that Amberger was expected to follow the iconographic arrangement of the earlier altarpiece in his replacement. In the central section, the enthroned Virgin and Child are surrounded by kneeling angels who play musical instruments, with above, the crucified Christ between the Virgin and St John. Throughout the composition, Amberger has substituted a Renaissance architectural setting for Holbein's late Gothic pinnacles, arches and niches. The seven saints of the legend of St Afra, seen on the predella of Holbein's altarpiece, are changed by Amberger in his drawing to members of the Habsburg house: on the left, Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy, and, on the right, Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. The inclusion of the last two could be a reference to the two reigns in which the two altarpieces were commissioned, although, in his altarpiece as it was executed, Amberger reverts to Holbein's iconography. The present drawing indicates that Amberger originally planned an altarpiece with movable wings, with the patron saints Ulrich and Afra seen on the outside when the altarpiece would have been closed. In the finished work, this plan is abandoned and the single angel is altered to two angels; otherwise the painting mainly follows the preliminary study.
Mathias Gerung adapted Amberger's figures for saints Ulrich and St Afra as they appear in the painting for his woodcut, signed and dated 1555, in the ‘Missale secundum ritum Augustensis ecclesie’, published by S. Mayer at Dillingen in 1555 (Hollstein, x, p. 56, no. 74, repr.).'
Lit from Rowlands: Schönbrunner-Meder, x, no. 1151, repr.; Parker, German Schools, p. 32, no. 40, repr.; Buchner, Beiträge, ii, p. 136; A.E. Popham, BMQ, vii, no. 4, 1933, p. 106; Augsburg, Holbein, pp. 161f., no. 191, pl. 197; U. Finke, Berl. Mus., NF, xvii, 1967, Heft 2, p. 51, repr., detail; K. Löcher, Munich Jahrbuch, DF, xxx, I979, pp. 42ff., repr. (for further literature); Geissler, Deutsche Zeichner 1540-1640, i, pp. 5f., no. A5, repr.; Augsburg, Umbruch, ii, pp. 216f, no. 594, repr.; BM Dürer and Holbein, p. 177, no. 146, repr
Additional lit.: Rainer Schoch, 'Der Entwurf zu einem Augsburger Familienepitaph -- eine Zeichnung von Christoph Amberger?' in Von der Genauigkeit des Sehes: Festschrift für Anne Röver-Kann zum 75. Geburtstag, ed. R. Duckwitz and C. Melzer (Bremen, 2018): pp.46, no. 3.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1979/80 Nov-Jan, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, 'Drawing in Germany', no. A5
1980 Jun-Sep, Augsburg City Hall, 'Augsburg: A Changing World', no. 594
1988, July-Oct, BM, 'Age of Dürer & Holbein', no. 146
2005 June-Oct, Augsburg, Stadt Augsburg, Kunstsammlungen, 'Pax Augustana:...'
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Wilhelm Koller (Sale, Vienna, A. Posonyi, 1872, 14 February and following days, lot 14)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Adalbert von Lanna (Sale, Stuttgart, H.G. Gutekunst, 1910, 6 May, lot 10, bt Obach RM 3850)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number