Barthel Beham (German, 1502–1540)
Oil on wood
22 1/8 x 14 7/8 in. (56.2 x 37.8 cm)
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1912 (12.194)
Barthel Beham and his older brother Sebald were renowned as printmakers as well as painters. They were active in Lutheran Nuremberg until 1525, when they were expelled. Barthel moved to Catholic Munich to work for the Bavarian dukes William IV and Ludwig X. Shown with a proud gaze and boldly crossed arms, the sitter of this arresting portrait was chancellor to William IV, and a powerful opponent of the Reformation. He was born into a noble Bavarian family, and went on to study law in Germany and Italy. As chancellor, von Eck ardently championed the Wittelsbach cause against the Habsburg monarchy, and tried to suppress every demonstration of Protestantism. His identity has been secured by an engraving after this portrait that is inscribed with von Eck's name and his age (forty-seven) and Beham's initials, with the date 1527.