Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 103. Portrait of a girl.

Joseph Heintz the Elder

Portrait of a girl

Lot Closed

July 4, 09:03 AM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 GBP

Lot Details


Joseph Heintz the Elder

Basel 1564–1609 Prague

Portrait of a girl

dated right of centre and signed in monogram below: AÑO/ 1600/ OHE (in ligature)/ . F

oil on copper

unframed: 8.1 x 6.6 cm.; 3¼ x 2⅝ in.

framed: 11 x 9.3 cm.; 4⅜ x 3⅝ in.

Signed in monogram and dated 1600, this elegant depiction of a young girl is a charming example of Joseph Heintz the Elder's portraiture. Hitherto unrecorded, the identity of the sitter remains an enigma, though it is possible to conclude that this girl's parents must have been of considerable social standing on account of her elaborate attire. In addition to her lace collar and cuffs, she dons a red bonnet adorned with flowers, which matches the colouring of her coral bracelet. The manner in which Heintz has painted her collar is comparable to that employed in his Portrait of a lady executed just one year before the present work, in 1599, which is today in a private collection, New York.1 The New York picture is also monogrammed in a similar fashion, featuring an OHE in ligature.2

With Bartholomaeus Spranger (1546–1611) and Hans von Aachen (1552–1615), Heintz was one of the three great figure painters active at the Court of Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612) in Prague. Much like Spranger and Von Aachen, Heintz's formation as an artist was shaped largely by his Italian experience. He was in Rome from around 1584, before travelling to Venice via Florence in 1587. While the artistic traditions of these cities are certainly apparent in his style, he must have also spent time in Parma, as the hallmarks of Correggio (1489–1534) and Parmiganino (1503–1540) are likewise discernable. Rudolf II summoned Heintz to Prague in 1591 as court painter, but sent him back to Italy soon afterwards, where he resided in Rome again from 1592–95, acting as art agent for the Emperor as well as painting and drawing antique statuary. He did not settle in Prague permanently thereafter, spending at least as much time in Augsburg, where he became a citizen following his marriage in 1598 and worked for the Fuggers and other Augsburg and Bavarian families, as well as the Emperor. 

We are grateful to Dr. Adriana Concin for suggesting that this young sitter may perhaps be identified as Caroline (1591–1662), one of the illegitimate daughters of Rudolf II.

1 Oil on canvas, 71 x 53 cm.; J. Zimmer, Joseph Heintz der Ältere als Maler, Weissenhorn 1971, p. 116, no. A32, reproduced pl. 75.

2 The full signature on this painting reads: OHE intz. F.