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Master of the Mornauer Portrait, Portrait of Alexander Mornauer

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Alexander Mornauer
Artist Master of the Mornauer Portrait
Artist dates probably active about 1460 - 1488
Date made about 1464-88
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 45.2 × 38.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1990
Inventory number NG6532
Location Room 65
Art route(s) A
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Alexander Mornauer
Master of the Mornauer Portrait
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This painting reflects the simple and direct manner of German portraiture of the late fifteenth century. It was once thought to be a portrait by Holbein of the German religious reformer Martin Luther, but the sitter is in fact Alexander Mornauer, town clerk of Landshut in Bavaria; the letter he holds is addressed to himself.

Cleaning also revealed the wood-grain background, which had been overpainted with a layer of Prussian blue, a pigment that only became available to artists in the early eighteenth century. The colour was similar to one often used by Hans Holbein the Younger, the most accomplished of sixteenth-century portraitists. Whoever made this change may have wished to pass the portrait off as a work by Holbein, which would have had more value than a painting by an unknown German artist.

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