- Museum number
Portrait of Philip Melanchthon; head and shoulders in three-quarter profile to right; in his right eye are reflected the lights from a window; tablet with Latin inscription below. 1526
- Production date
Height: 174 millimetres
Width: 127 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit: 'German Renaissance Prints' exh.cat. BM. 1995, no. 47; 'Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy' exh cat BM 2002-3, no.166
Entry from Dürer and his Legacy:
'Philipp Melanchthon (1497 - 1560) was a renowned supporter of Martin Luther and famous teacher; he was appointed professor of Greek at the university of Wittenberg in 1518 at the age of twenty-one. He was called upon by the city council of Nuremberg to re-organise the school curriculum when the decision was taken by the council in 1525 to institute the main principals of Luther's reforms. Melanchthon was in Nuremberg for this purpose in 1525-6 when Dürer engraved his portrait, which he inscribed: 'Dürer was able to depict Philipp's features as if living, but the skilled hand could not portray his soul.'
Melanchthon thought highly of Dürer and considered that painting was the least of his accomplishments; he gave particular praise to his debating skills in disputes with Pirckheimer from which Dürer would emerge as the more eloquent figure (see Conway, p.133). It is possible that he possessed some of Dürer's prints and a letter of 15 March 1533 from Melanchthon to Joachim Camerarius indicates that he owned a German copy of Dürer's book on proportion (cat.no 172; see Rupprich I, p.288). '
The plate has survived and is kept at Stadt Gotha, Schlossmuseum (inv.no 8,24a). The copper plate is first mentioned in an 1843 inventory as being in the possession of Duke Ernest II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1745-1804); the plate was found only after Ernest's death by Johann Christian Kühner (1774-1852), who supervised the ducal collection of paintings, prints and drawings.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1995 Jun-Oct, BM, 'German Renaissance Prints, 1490-1550', no.47
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number