Portrait of Levinus Memmiger of Wolgemut

Portrait of Levinus Memmiger of Wolgemut
Portrait of Levinus Memmiger of Wolgemut

This is a small canvas (33 x 22 cm) painted in oil by the German artist Michael Wolgemut around the year 1485, that is, it is a work ofLate Gothic, which is currently part of the medieval painting collection of the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

The person portrayed, Levinus Memmiger, was a judge from the city of Nuremberg, for which he also commissioned the altar of Saint Catherine in the church of Saint Lawrence in that same city and where he is also portrayed, thanks to which it is possible to identify him. Despite his youth, it is known that in 1490 this character belonged to the Great Council of the city, and that he was an important protector of artistic development until his early death in 1493.

Portrait of Levinus Memminger of Wolgemut

Portrait of Levinus Memminger by Wolgemut

Wolgemut makes of it a portrait in which we can see a severe image, but curiously, that very official tone of effigy contrasts with very varied and rich backgrounds.

Michel Wolgemut would come to be a prominent representative of German Gothic art well into the 15th century, and moreover always has to be named as he was the master ofAlbrecht Dürer between 1486 and 1490. In fact the great painter of the German Renaissance, especially learned engraving techniques from Wolgemut, since he was a renowned engraver and also creator of altarpieces in his time.

This type of composition in the portrait is very common in his works, where as a general rule the figures are built from an important drawing, that is, his figures are based on the line, which gives them an appearance quite austere. And yet, the painter had an innate capacity for a more colorful repertoire, which, as in this case, usually appears in the backgrounds of his works. In this image, the protagonist is placed before a window that is supposed to be his home, from which we see a fairly deep landscape, in a less advanced perspective than what was being done in Italian Renaissance painting in those years. While on the left hand side, Wolgemut has gone to great lengths to paint a tapestry, very much in the tradition of Northern and Central Europe, which includes Memminger's own coat of arms and the initials of his name.

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