Imitator of Hans Holbein the Younger (17th or early 18th century)
Vellum laid on card
Diameter 2 1/8 in. (53 mm)
Bequest of Millie Bruhl Fredrick, 1962
Not on view
The miniature was probably produced in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century with the intention of it being passed off as a work by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543). A somewhat similar miniature apparently intended to show the same man—but painted on card and showing him less full face—is in the collection of H. M. the Queen, Windsor Castle (Graham Reynolds, Catalogue of the Tudor and Stuart Miniatures in the Collection of H. M. the Queen, [Cambridge, 1996], no. 12). Two other miniatures of the same character are in the Orange-Nassau collection (Karen Schaffers-Bodenhausen and Marieke Tiethoff-Spliethoff, The Portrait Miniatures in the Collections of the House of Orange-Nassau, [Zwolle, 1993], p. 476, nos. 692, 693, ill. in color). They are described as possibly nineteenth-cenrury copies after Barthel Bruyn the Elder (1493–1555) or his circle.
Williamson (1906) gives an unconvincing account of the earlier history of the miniature, alleging that it came from a collection in Basel with an unbroken descent in the sitter's family since the time of Holbein and that until shortly before its purchase for the Pierpont Morgan collection the owners had a letter from Holbein to Arnold Franz in which the miniarure was mentioned. Williamson says that Franz was supposed to have been a painter in Basel but admits that nothing certain is known of him and that the family said to have owned the miniature has died out. Williamson's remarks are an attempt to validate a production which on stylistic grounds cannot be earlier than the seventeenth century.
[2015; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
J. Pierpont Morgan, London (by 1906–d. 1913; cat., vol. 1, 1906, no. 3, as by Holbein); his son, J. P. Morgan, New York (1913–35; his sale, Christie's, London, June 24, 1935, no. 127, as School of Holbein, to Walker); ?Mrs. Lloyd-Jones, Sydney (in 1953); Mrs. Leopold (Millie Bruhl) Fredrick, New York (by 1960–d. 1962; inv., 1960, no. 135)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 7.
G[eorge]. C. Williamson. Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the Property of J. Pierpont Morgan. Vol. 1, [deluxe edition]. London, 1906, pp. 7–8, no. 3, pl. III, no. 1, colorpl. 3, attributes it to Holbein; states that it came from a collection in Basel, and "at the sale was stated to have been in the possession of the descendants of the man depicted in it since the time of Holbein"; identifies the sitter as Arnold Franz, stating that "the family who owned the miniature is said to have preserved for a long time a letter from Holbein to Franz in which this very portrait is mentioned, but this important document appears to have been lost".
William Bode. "More Spurious Pictures Abroad Than in America." New York Times (December 31, 1911), p. SM4.
Edward Grosvenor Paine. Inventory of the miniatures in the Fredrick collection. 1960, pp. 17–18, no. 135, as by Holbein.
Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 71–72, no. 7, colorpl. 7 and ill. p. 71, state that it was "probably produced in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century with the intention of it being passed off as a work by Hans Holbein the Younger"; call Williamson's account of its provenance [see Ref. 1906] unconvincing.
This is a modern Renaissance-style frame with a black enamel rim and three pendant pearls. It is inscribed ÆT 32 in the enamel at the bottom and ARNOLD FRANZ HOLBEIN PINX on the back.