Old Masters Evening Sale

Old Masters Evening Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 2. Portrait of Heinrich Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1564–1613)  《布倫瑞克-呂訥堡公爵亨利・尤利烏斯(1564–1613)畫像》.

Property from a European Private Collection

Adam Offinger

Portrait of Heinrich Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1564–1613) 《布倫瑞克-呂訥堡公爵亨利・尤利烏斯(1564–1613)畫像》

This lot has been withdrawn

Lot Details


Property from a European Private Collection

Adam Offinger

b. Nördlingen[?]; doc. 1575 - 1598

Portrait of Heinrich Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1564–1613)

signed in monogram on the border lower right: AO; and dated upper left: 1582; inscribed: · ANNO · 1 · 5 · 82 · · ÆTATIS · 18P: P C:  

oil on circular softwood panel

diameter: 20 cm.; 7⅝ in.



生於訥德林根(?),活躍於1575 - 1598年


款識:藝術家簽姓名縮寫AO(右下邊緣);紀年1582(左上);題款 · ANNO · 1 · 5 · 82 · · ÆTATIS · 18/ P: P C:


直徑:20 公分;7 ⅝ 英寸

This Lot has been withdrawn from the sale.

Herzogliche Gemäldegalerie, Gotha, by 1890; 

In the possession of the current owner's family by 1977. 

C. Aldenhoven, Katalog der Herzoglichen Gemäldegalerie, Herzogliches Museum Gotha, 1890, p. 81, no. 392; 

Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler..., H. Vollmer (ed.), vol. 25, Leipzig 1931, p. 578 (as in Gotha Museum);

Hilariusblätter, 1937 (as formerly in the Museum Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha);

P. Jonas Meier, ‘Die Maler Adam Offinger’, in Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte, vol. 17, 1940, p. 145;

Erroneously listed in Verlorene Werke der Malerei in Deutschland in der Zeit von 1939 bis 1945 zerstörte und verschollene Gemälde, M. Bernhard (ed.), Munich and Berlin 1965, p. 129;

Hofkunst der Spätrenaissance. Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel und das kaiserliche Prag um 1600, exh. cat., Braunschweig 1998, pp. 38–40, no. 4;

E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres..., J. Busse (ed.), vol. 10, Paris 1999, p. 335 (as in Gotha Museum);

J. Luckhardt in Das Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum und seine Sammlungen 1578 · 1754 · 2004, Munich 2004, p. 29;

H. Börsch-Supan, ‘Ein Bildnis der Herzogs Julius von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel von Adam Offinger’, Wolfenbütteler Renaissance-Mitteilungen, 31, 2007, pp. 88–89.

This penetrating likeness of Heinrich Julius von Braunschweig (1564–1613), later Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, was captured in roundel format by the Bavarian painter Adam Offinger in 1582. It is the earliest known painted depiction of the young Duke, executed when he was only eighteen years of age, and it is identifiable as such by the elegant inscription on its border. Richly dressed, Heinrich Julius wears an elaborately embroidered black overgarment decorated with knot and foliate motifs in gold thread, over a grey wool doublet that offsets the splendid effect of his ornate belts and numerous gold chains, one with a double horn-shaped pendant. The Duke’s outfit is topped with a high black cap, decorated with a medallion, feathers and pearls. Highly detailed, the painting’s circular format evokes portrait medals; indeed, it probably served as the model for an engraved portrait (1582) and a gold medallion portrait of the Duke by Frantz Friderich (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig).1

The circular portrait type was developed by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) and his circle, Barthel Bruyn the Elder (1493–1555) and Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8–1543), among others. This example by Offinger from later in the century has a particularly arresting composition. Designed in an intimate format, such portraits were popular as easily transportable images and as diplomatic gifts.2 It is very likely that the portrait once had a cover emblazoned with the sitter’s coat of arms. A protective shell no doubt accounts for its excellent state of preservation. The dimensions given by Carl Aldenhoven in his description of the portrait published in 1890 – H. 25, W. 43 cm. – suggest that they relate to the portrait and its cover, which at the time were displayed side-by-side in a frame. The act of opening the lid would have enhanced the three-dimensional effect of the roundel, which, with its fictive raised border, creates a highly effective sense of illusion: not only does Offinger render with great subtlety a circular shadow to suggest a recessed background, he also paints the shadow cast by the sitter. The refined letters ‘P P C’, inscribed on the neutral background, serve as a monogram for the Duke's motto ‘Pro Patria Consumor’ (‘Consumed for one’s country’), while the form adopted by Offinger for his monogram ‘AO’, placed in the dimness behind the Duke, implies his deliberate emulation of Dürer’s monogram.

Heinrich Julius von Braunschweig was a member of the House of Welf, and ruling Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1589 until his death. At a very young age he was appointed protestant bishop at the Catholic cloister of Halberstadt by his father Duke Julius (1528–1589),3 and later, from 1582 until 1585, he served at the helm of the Prince-Bishopric of Minden. Highly educated, Heinrich Julius studied law and was a cultivated patron of art and culture. Duke Julius instilled in his eldest son a love of books, paintings and carved objects. From 1580 Offinger is recorded as the official court painter to Heinrich Julius and although Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527–c. 1606) was the most important painter, architect, engineer and designer working in Wolfenbüttel in the sixteenth century, when Heinrich Julius succeeded to the Dukedom, he did not take him into his service. It was his mother, the dowager Duchess Hedwig of Brandenburg, who probably commissioned from Vredeman de Vries the large Allegory of Sin and Redemption, with portraits of Duke Julius, of herself and all their children depicted as donors on the lateral panels flanking the central image. Painted in 1590 for the altar of the Schloßkapelle zu Hessen (Museum im Schloß, Wolfenbüttel), it clearly shows the more grown up features of Heinrich Julius, their son and heir, seen kneeling on his father's right.

In the wake of Duke Julius’s death in May 1589, Heinrich Julius came to power and subsequently embarked on travels to Prague, where he sought support from Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612) to protect his tax and political interests in Braunschweig. Like his father and grandfather before him, he was committed to furthering imperial interests. His influence at Rudolf’s court culminated with his appointment as head of the Privy Council. In 1590 he married Elizabeth of Denmark (1573–1626). Her posthumous inventories give only a partial glimpse of the many fine works of art that he amassed, perhaps inspired by Emperor Rudolf’s extraordinary Kunstkammer in Prague. To render his own likeness, Heinrich Julius also turned to the same artists admired by the emperor. One recorded example now lost is a portrait of the Duke by Hans von Aachen painted in 1598 during his first stay in Prague, which formed the basis of Lucas Kilian’s engraved portrait of c. 1598–1600. The Duke’s image was also immortalised in an equestrian bronze statuette by the celebrated sculptor Adriaen de Vries (missing since 1945).4 Heinrich Julius died in Prague in 1613.

Dated paintings by Offinger – mostly portraits – document his activity between 1575 and 1598. He probably came from Nördlingen or Regensburg in southern Germany, where a family of goldsmiths is known to have been active between 1580 and 1615. Although his known œuvre is quite small, extant examples indicate that Offinger gained recognition in the Weser area, in central Germany, through numerous portrait commissions from the local nobility. These include his portraits dated 1575 and 1580 of members of the Asseburg family from Schloß Hinnenburg, Höxter (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin);5 and his double portraits of Heinrich von Saldern and his wife Margaretha von Veltheim, both dated 1578, from Schloß Hehlen, Holzminden (Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum, Hannover).6 Painted in nearby Braunschweig, this signed and dated portrait roundel constitutes a significant milestone in any discussion of Offinger’s career.

1 Hofkunst der Spätrenaissance. Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel und das kaiserliche Prag um 1600, exh. cat., Braunschweig 1998, pp. 40 and 44, no. 5, reproduced p. 41; and pp. 168–69, no. 71, reproduced p. 167; for the print see also Luckhardt, 2004, reproduced p. 29, fig. 19; for the medal: https://www.bildindex.de/document/obj20188156

2 See Dülberg 1990, especially pp. 93–98.

3 A later portrait of Duke Julius dated 1584, of similar size and roundel format was sold Kunsthaus Lempertz, 5 December 1998, lot 1102.

4 Luckhardt 2004, reproduced p. 32, fig. 22.

5 For Hans Ernst von der Asseburg, see Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 2229; Bode Museum, old catalogue no. 1965; https://www.bildindex.de/document/obj02558060

6 https://www.bildindex.de/document/obj20608984; and https://www.bildindex.de/document/obj20608985