Portrait of a Young Man; (reverse) Girl Making a Garland

Hans Süss von Kulmbach (German, Kulmbach ca. 1480–1522 Nuremberg)

ca. 1508
Oil on wood
7 x 5 1/2 in. (17.8 x 14 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Hans Süss von Kulmbach had been apprenticed to the Italian painter and printmaker Jacopo de’ Barbari, who worked at a number of German courts in the first decade of the sixteenth century. The latter’s influence must have continued even after Kulmbach joined Dürer’s Nuremberg studio in 1507, since this portrait of an unidentified young man, which dates from about 1508, is stylistically very close to Barbari's earlier Portrait of a Man (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). The panel is unique in Kulmbach’s oeuvre, as it joins a portrait with an allegorical subject on the verso.

    Reverse label: This charming genre depiction represents a girl making a garland of forget-me-nots, one of which lies on the windowsill. A decoratively trailing banderole above reads, in translation, "I bind with forget-me-nots." Symbolizing a lover or prospective bride, the young maiden seems to address the young man who appears on the other side of the panel, promising to bind her heart faithfully to him. The prominently placed cat—a symbol of respectable, constant love in the art of the period— also refers to her commitment and affection.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed: (on scroll) .ICH PINT MIT, VERGIS MEIN NIT. (I bind with forget-me-nots); (right center, falsely, with initials of Albrecht Dürer) AD [monogram] / 1508

  • Provenance

    ?private collection, Vienna (before 1800); Francesco Santangelo, Palazzo Carafa di Maddaloni, Naples (by 1815–d. 1836); his son, Nicola Santangelo, Palazzo Carafa di Maddaloni (1836–47); his brother, Michele Santangelo, Palazzo Carafa di Maddaloni, and Villa dei Santangelo, Pollena (1847–d. 1876); Santangelo family, Pollena (1876–at least 1884; cat., 1876, no. 33, as by Dürer); Dominic Colnaghi (in 1906); J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (by 1909–d. 1913; his estate, 1913–17)

  • Exhibition History

    London. Burlington Fine Arts Club. "Early German Art," 1906, nos. 39, 39A (as "A Girl making a Wreath of Forget-me-nots," by Wolfgang Traut, and "Portrait of a Youth," by the Nuremberg School, influenced by Jacopo dei Barbari, lent by Mr. Dominic Colnaghi).

    New York. M. Knoedler & Co.. "The Artist and the Animal," May 7–24, 1968, no. 20 (as "A Girl Tying a Wreath," by Hans von Kulmbach).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg, 1300–1550," April 8–June 22, 1986, no. 162 (as "Portrait of a Young Man, (reverse): Girl Making a Garland").

    Nuremberg. Germanisches Nationalmuseum. "Nürnberg 1300–1550: Kunst der Gotik und Renaissance," July 24–September 28, 1986, no. 162 (as "Bildnis eines jungen Mannes; Rückseite: Kranzbindendes Mädchen").

  • References

    Domenico Romanelli. Napoli antica e moderna. Naples, 1815, vol. 3, p. 92, as in the collection of the lawyer D. Francesco Santa[n]gelo, new owner of the Palazzo Colombrano; describes the picture as "una V. [Virgin], che intesse una ghirlanda di Alberto Duro, che vi segnò l'anno 1518 [sic], e la sua cifra"; does not mention the portrait of a young man on the reverse.

    Carlo Celano. Notizie del bello, dell'antico e del curioso della città di Napoli. 3, Naples, 1858, p. 690, lists it in the palazzo of the marchese Santangelo, describing it as "un quadrettino di 'Alberto Durer' segnato del suo monogramma e dell' anno 1508, che rappresenta la molestissima donna di lui, sedente con un gatto vicino, in atto d'intrecciare una ghirlanda dei fiori comunemente detti 'non ti scordar di me', com' è scritto in una fettuccia, ripiegata più volte, con le parole tedesche nell' ortografia del tempo 'ich pint mit vergis mein nit'".

    Catalogo della pinacoteca dei marchesi Santangelo di Napoli. Naples, 1876, pp. 15–16, no. 33, as by Dürer; states that it depicts the artist's "irascible and unbearable" wife.

    Moriz Thausing. Dürer: Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Kunst. 2nd ed. [1st ed., 1876]. Leipzig, 1884, vol. 1, p. 366 n. 1, mentions it as in the Santangelo collection, Naples, but rejects the attribution to Dürer.

    Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, unpaginated addenda for October–December 1909, lists "Girl Making a Garland" as by Wolfgang Traut, lent by J. Pierpont Morgan.

    [Max J.] Friedländer. "Die Ausstellung altdeutscher Kunst im Burlington Fine Arts Club zu London—Sommer 1906." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 29 (1906), p. 587, attributes both sides of the painting to Hans von Kulmbach.

    Christian Rauch. Die Trauts: Studien und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Nürnberger Malerei. Strasbourg, 1907, pp. 78–79, pl. 24 (woman), attributes the "Girl Making a Garland" to Wolf Traut, not mentioning the "Portrait of a Young Man," but including the picture in a group of "Liebesbilder"; relates the girl to the figures of Mary and Anna in the Artelshofen altarpiece (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich); mentions that the picture appeared recently on the English art market, specifying the owners as the Colnaghi brothers; states that both the monogram and the year are false, and tentatively suggests that the person who added them may also have retouched the cat, the inscription, and the window frame.

    "The Pierpont Morgan Gift." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (January 1918), p. 17, lists "Girl Making a Garland" as by Traut.

    Friedrich Winkler. Letter to Harry B. Wehle. April 30, 1929, is "nearly quite sure" that both sides "are especially fine works of Hans von Kulmbach".

    F[riedrich]. Winkler. "Ein Bildnistäfelchen des Hans von Kulmbach." Pantheon 6 (July–December 1930), pp. 452–54, ill. (both sides), attributes both sides to Kulmbach; suggests that the similarity to the work of Jacopo de' Barbari may indicate that it is Kulmbach's earliest work; identifies the young man as the girl's fiancé.

    Hans Tietze. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, p. 339, pl. 206 (woman) [English ed., "Masterpieces of European Painting in America," New York, 1939, p. 323, pl. 206 (woman)], accepts the attribution to Kulmbach.

    Charles L. Kuhn. A Catalogue of German Paintings of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in American Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1936, p. 56, no. 214, attributes the woman to Traut, but finds that the man "has some affinities" to Kulmbach; dates the work about 1515 and calls it a betrothal picture.

    Franz Stadler. Hans von Kulmbach. Vienna, 1936, pp. 54, 129, nos. 118a (man), 118b (woman), pl. 58 (both sides), attributes both sides to Kulmbach and dates both sides 1515–18.

    Emil Waldmann. "Deutsche Kunst in amerikanischen Museen." Der Türmer: Deutsche Monatshefte 39 (January 1937), p. 304, ill. (woman), attributes the woman to either Traut or Kulmbach and states that the man is by the same hand.

    Fritz Tr. Schulz in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 352, lists both sides as by Traut under the year 1508; notes that Rauch [see Ref. 1907] attributes both sides to Traut, but that both Winkler and Stadler [see Refs. 1930 and 1936] assign the panel to Kulmbach.

    Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 190–91, ill. (both sides), state that both sides are probably by Kulmbach; note that the woman shows a higher degree of finish than the man, and that while the condition of the former is excellent, the latter is seriously worn.

    Holbein and His Contemporaries. Exh. cat., John Herron Art Museum. Indianapolis, 1950, unpaginated, no. 42 (woman), ill. (woman), as by Kulmbach; notes that both Panofsky and Held have recently independently corrected the translation of the inscription from "I am here too; do not forget me" to "I twine this wreath of forget-me-nots".

    Friedrich Winkler. Hans von Kulmbach: Leben und Werk eines fränkischen Künstlers der Dürerzeit. Kulmbach, 1959, p. 56, pls. 32 (man), 33 (woman), states that the picture went from Vienna to Naples in the eighteenth century, and that it came to the attention of the painter Wilhelm Tischbein at that time, who mentioned it in his memoirs [but see memo of May 13, 1985 in archive file].

    P[eter]. Strieder in Kindlers Malerei Lexikon. 3, Zürich, 1966, pp. 777, 780, ill. (woman), attributes both sides to Kulmbach and dates the work about 1510; calls the woman the first genre scene in German panel painting.

    E[berhard]. Schenk z[u]. S[chweinsberg]. "Pictura francofordiana." Schriften des Historischen Museums Frankfurt am Main 13 (1972), pp. 33–38, ill. (both sides), cites a poem of 1566 by Johannes Stigl about a painting then in Frankfurt depicting a girl making a garland of honeysuckle.

    Lisa Oehler. "Das Dürermonogramm auf Werken der Dürerschule." Städel-Jahrbuch, n.s., 4 (1973), pp. 40, 77–78 n. 7, figs. 5 (woman), 33 (detail of signature), attributes the woman to Traut, calling her right hand and face characteristic of him; states that the thickened right leg of the letter "A" of the false Dürer monogram is also found in Traut's woodcut of Christ's Departure from His Mother (fig. 4); adds that the numerals of the date are shaped differently from Kulmbach's practice, and that the earliest dated work on which Traut's own monogram appears is from 1514.

    Rüdiger Klessmann. Letter to Walter Liedtke. December 23, 1981, writes that the inscribed words "Ich pint mit" actually mean "Ich binde mit" and that the phrase can be freely translated as "I bind my heart with the garland".

    Sigrid Walther. Hans Süß von Kulmbach. Dresden, 1981, pp. 6–7, fig. 2 (woman).

    Barbara Rosalyn Butts. "'Dürerschüler' Hans Süss von Kulmbach." PhD diss., Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 1985, pp. 76–78, figs. 57–58 (both sides), attributes both sides to Kulmbach and dates both sides about 1513; calls the woman especially close to Dürer's style, but notes that the original color combinations, the suppleness of the woman's figure, and the underdrawing of the cat are all characteristic of Kulmbach; relates the man to Kulmbach's portrait of Hans Gunder (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) of 1509 and his portrait of a man (Heinz Kisters collection, Kreuzlingen) of 1514.

    Kurt Löcher in Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg, 1300–1550. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1986, pp. 343–44, no. 162, ill. (both sides) [German ed., "Nürnberg, 1300–1550: Kunst der Gotik und Renaissance"], attributes both sides to Kulmbach; dates the man about 1508, suggesting that the date inscribed on the other side may have been transferred from the original frame; dates the woman about 1510, due to its "greater maturity" and "the deftness in the handling of its symbolic elements"; notes that the portrait must have been intended as the front of the panel, with the genre scene of the woman and cat as the back; adds that the fact that the man faces to the left indicates that the portrait was planned as an independent work, since he would customarily face to the right in a diptych, but that the painted reverse "presupposes" that the work was one side of a hinged diptych; suggests that a companion portrait of the man's fiancée may have been commissioned later, and that the woman making a garland might have been added at that time; translates the inscription as "I am tying with forget-me-nots".

    Angelica Dülberg. Privatporträts: Geschichte und Ikonologie einer Gattung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1990, pp. 16, 148, 243, no. 196, figs. 198 (man), 199 (woman).

    Brigitte Lymant. "Die sogenannte 'Folge aus dem Alltagsleben' von Israhel van Meckenem: Ein spätgotischer Kupferstichzyklus zu Liebe und Ehe." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 53 (1992), pp. 39, 44 n. 90.

    Helmut Nickel. "The Bride and the Cat: A Possible Source for Overbeck's 'Freundschaftsbild' of Franz Pforr." Metropolitan Museum Journal 27 (1992), pp. 183, 185, 187 nn. 2–4, figs. 2–3 (both sides), suggests that the "Girl Making a Garland" served as a model for Johann Friedrich Overbeck's portrait of the painter Franz Pforr (1810; Nationalgalerie, Berlin), noting that both pictures include a similarly posed young woman at left and a cat on a window sill at lower right; states that there is no documentary evidence that Overbeck saw the MMA work in either Vienna or Naples [see Ex collections], but that the details shared by the two pictures "suggest strongly that Overbeck had it in mind when he painted his friend's portrait"; translates the inscription as "I bind with forget-me-nots"; dates the man about 1510, noting that both the inscribed monogram and date on the reverse are later additions.

    Peter Strieder. Tafelmalerei in Nürnberg, 1350–1550. Königstein, 1993, pp. 131–32, 250, no. 124, figs. 154 (color, woman), 494 (man), attributes both sides to Kulmbach; relates the figure of the woman to those in Kulmbach's St. Nicholas altarpiece (St. Lorenz, Nuremberg); notes that the hypothesis that the man was the right wing of a portrait diptych remains questionable [see Ref. Löcher 1986]; states that the influence of Jacopo de' Barbari suggests that the date of 1508 may be accurate for the man, noting that Löcher proposes a slightly later date for the woman.

    Sigrid Dittrich and Lothar Dittrich. Lexikon der Tiersymbole: Tiere als Sinnbilder in der Malerei des 14.–17. Jahrhunderts. Petersberg, Germany, 2004, pp. 259, 266 n. 70.

    Sabine Lata. Wolf Traut als Maler. Nuremberg, 2005, p. 361, no. X-58, as by Kulmbach, formerly attributed to Wolf Traut.

    Peter Klein. Letter to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. April 3, 2006, identifies the wood of the panel as poplar.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History