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Painting and Graphic Art

Portrait of the goldsmith Wentzel Jamnitzer

Key data

Nuremberg, 1562/63

Oil on canvas

91.5 x 79 cm

Inv. 1920.143.


Goldsmiths' work in Germany in the C16 was profoundly influenced by Wenzel Jamnitzer, who died in Nuremberg in 1585. As a master he ranks beside his famous Italian predecessor Benvenuto Cellini. His fame soon reached Basle, and the cast of the lost silver saddle that he made for the coronation of Maximilian II came to Basle even during his lifetime, together with several lead casts of small pieces (goldsmith's models). The 55 year old goldsmith holds a gauging rod of his own construction for determining the specific gravity of seven metals, and a pair of reducing compasses - two aids needed to calculate the amount of material required to cast an object such as the as yet ungilt silver statuette in front of him. A speciality of Jamnitzei s were delicate garlands of silver flowers, cast after nature, like that in the background. The painting is an exact copy of the portrait commissioned by Jamnitzer from the Netherlandish artist Nicolas Neufchatel, removed by Napoleon from the Nuremberg town hall and now in the Musée d'art et histoire in Geneva.

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Basel Historical Museum
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