Lot 102
  • 102

German School, first half of the 16th century

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
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  • German School, first half of the 16th century
  • Portrait of a bearded gentleman, bust length, wearing a slashed coat and hat; Portrait of a lady, bust length, wearing a red dress
  • both inscribed; the former: ETATIS SVAE 5[3?]6 and upper right: ANNO 1536 and upper centre.: NON NOBIS DOMMINE / PSALM 100 15 and centre: SPES MEA IN / DEO EST
    the latter: ETATIS SVAE 28 and upper right: ANNO 1536 and upper centre: IPSE FECIT NOS, ET NON / IPSI NOS·PSAL / 100 15 and centre: DEO GRACIAS
  • a pair, both oil on paper laid on panel, framed as one
Head and shoulders, with a beard, wearing a black doublet and hat; Portrait of a lady, head and shoulders, in a red cape.


Probably acquired by William Kerr, 3rd Earl of Lothian (1605-75);
William Kerr, 3rd Marquess of Lothian (1690–1767);
Thence by descent.


Newbattle Abbey inventory, c. 1726/27 ('Two little pictures of Gentleman and woman...');
Newbattle Abbey inventory, March 1833, nos 314 and 315 (as 16th century German, incorrectly as on '?copper');
Newbattle Abbey inventory, May 1878, nos 314 and 315 (Lady Lothian's Room);
Monteviot House inventory, 14 July 1989, nos 314 and 315 (Morning Room).


The paper in both paintings appears to be in very good order. That of the woman has an old horizontal fold or join running across 4 cm. from the bottom edge. Both paintings have small old repaired holes in the centre of the upper edge, perhaps indicating old nail holes. The overall condition of the paint surface appears to be very good in both pictures, but some of the more thinly applied areas - the man's hat, white blouse and the woman's face and hat - have become worn. There has been some clumsy old restoration to the woman's cheek and hair to disguise this, which has now discoloured and is clearly visible. There are some other scattered pinpoint retouchings, mostly in the background of the female portrait. Parts of the inscription on the male portrait appear to have been strengthened. Both pictures are mounted and framed together in a later gilt plaster gallery frame in the French style, in good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The sitters in these striking Northern Renaissance portraits, in which the manner of execution and features of the man are particularly evident, remain as yet unidentified. The inscriptions above the pair are taken from Psalms 115 and 100, respectively, and may corroborate a Reformist inclination on the part of the sitters. The first number of the age of the male portrait appears to have been changed from a '3' to a '5', though his appearance is certainly that of a younger man.

If the sitters really were aged 56 and 28 in 1536 then they might tentatively be identified with the Reformer Andreas Karlstadt (1480/86?-1541) and his wife Anna von Mochau (b. 1507), though prints depicting Karlstadt in his old age do not reflect an incontrovertible resemblance.1 Karlstadt is regarded as a forerunner of the Anabaptist movement, part of the Radical Reformation which sprang from Martin Luther's teachings. Indeed, the year '1536' may be significant in marking the culmination of the Münster Rebellion, in which several Anabaptist leaders  were tortured and executed.2 The inscriptions may have been added at a later date, and it might just be possible that their author wished to associate the portraits not only with the sectarian movement, but perhaps even Karlstadt specifically.3

1. An unidentified double portrait, dated 1522, by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the National Gallery of Art, Washington (inv. nos 1959.9.1 and 1959.9.2, Samuel H. Kress Collection), has also been suggested as a portrait of the couple, painted in the year of their marriage.
2. Most prominent among those executed were the leaders John of Leiden, Bernhard Knipperdolling and Bernhard Rothmann, of whom the latter two were born around 1500. 
3. 'Non nobis Domine' has particular associations with the Knights Templar during the Crusades as an expression of thanksgiving and humility; 'Ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos' was highlighted by Luther's collaborator, Philip Melanchthon, as a source of particular comfort in his grief at his youngest son's death. If the sitters here did indeed die during the Rebellion, both phrases would perhaps have been thought fitting of their demise.