The Inscriptions


















Third Breakthrough
May 20, 2014






In an e-mail dated May 20, 2014, Ms. Kelm included during-cleaning images of the Penig portraits. The Luther panel was in poor condition and the background had been repainted a blue-green. Due to the painting's condition, only one additional letter could be added to the upper inscription: an R placed curiously just below the LVTHE. This letter completed the sitter's name and was added onto the template.







Luther During Cleaning
Penig Version

Luther Upper Inscription During Cleaning
Penig Version


Luther Upper Inscription With Known Letters


The lower inscription was also severely abraded but previously unknown letters were now legible. These letters were positioned into place, in red, on the Muskegon portrait. Several letters easily harmonized with the silhouette of the loss area, thereby verifying the inscriptions were the same.


Luther Lower Inscription During Treatment
Penig Version


Luther Lower Inscription With Previously Known Letters


Luther Lower Inscription With Added Known Letters


Several words from the inscription on Katharina's portrait were now evident. While the darkened varnish obscured most of the letters, the visible words from the Penig version were digitally placed onto the background.


Katharina During Cleaning
Penig Version

Katharina Upper Inscription During Cleaning
Penig Version


Katharina Upper Inscription Area


Katharina Upper Inscription With Known Letters



Final Breakthrough
June 8 and July 8, 2014

Luther Inscriptions

On June 8, 2014, Ms. Kelm sent information that included two nineteenth-century inventories that documented the inscriptions. Curiously, the inscriptions were recorded with puzzling differences. The inventories, with translations, are linked at the end of this Case Study in Appendixes A and B.

The first entry was written in Volume III of Christian Schuchardt's 1871 Lucas Cranach des Älteren Leben und Werke (Lucas Cranach the Elder: Life and Work). Entry Number 41 documented a portrait of Martin Luther as Junker Jörg from the collection of a Mr. von Schreiberhofen. The listing noted the following upper inscription: DOCTOR MARTINUS LUTHER, PROPHETA GERMANUS ANNO 1521 IN PATHMO AETATIS SUAE 38. DEPINGEBATUR; and a lower inscription: PESTIS. ERAM. VIVENS. MORIENS. PRO MORS. TUA. PAPA. (21)

The second inventory was written in 1890 and titled Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Königreichs Sachsen (Architectural and Art Monuments of the Kingdom of Saxony). The Penig portraits were included and the following inscriptions were noted for the Luther portrait: DOCTOR MARTINVS LVTHER . PROPHETA . GERMANVS . ANNO . 1521 . IN . PATHMO . AETATIS SUAE . 38 . DEPINGEBATUR; and PESTIS . ERAM . VIVENS . MORTVS . ERO . MORS . TVA . PAPA. (22)

The upper inscriptions were identical in the two inventories except for the Latin V replacing the letter U in the later version. The previously unknown letters in the upper inscription were inserted onto the template. The spacing of the letters was based on the Penig during-cleaning image and it's interesting to note that in two instances letters in the same word were on different lines.


Luther Upper Inscription


The lower inscriptions were not identical.


PESTIS. ERAM. VIVENS. MORIENS. PRO MORS. TUA. PAPA. (1871)

PESTIS. ERAM. VIVENS. MORTVS. ERO. MORS. TVA. PAPA. (1890)


One could reasonably infer that the texts were originally the same, but due to overpaint and darkened varnish the readers recorded slight differences. The identical additional letters, which did not conflict with the known letters, were added onto the template in blue. Internet research on the inscription's first three words identified the one missing letter as an I. This was inserted in green.

Luther Lower Inscription With Previously Known Letters


Luther Lower Inscription With Added Known Letters


The only major discrepancy in the above inscription is the word MORIENS (1871), changed to MORIES, with a line over the E. As noted earlier, an upper line in Latin can replace a following N or M.


Luther Lower Inscription



Katharina Inscription







The 1871 and 1890 inventories also included Katharina’s inscription. The 1871 von Schreiberhofen collection entry recorded: KATHARINA A BOR, UXOR ACERRIMI, CHRISTI JESU SALVATORIS NOSTRI, PER GERMANIUM APOSTOLI, DONI DOCTORIS MARTINI LUTHERI. The later 1890 Penig inventory documented: KATHARINA . A. BOR . VXOR . ACERRIMI . CHRISTI . JESV . SALVATORIS . NOSTRI . PER GERMANIAM . APOSTOLI . DNI . DOCTORIS . MARTINI LVTHERI. For comparative purposes, the two entries are referenced below.

KATHARINA A BOR UXOR ACERRIMI CHRISTI JESU SALVATORIS NOSTRI PER GERMANIUM (1871)

KATHARINA A BOR VXOR ACERRIMI CHRISTI JESV SALVATORIS NOSTRI PER GERMANIAM (1890)


APOSTOLI DONI DOCTORIS MARTINI LUTHERI (1871)

APOSTOLI DNI DOCTORIS MARTINI LVTHERI (1890)


Once again, the letter U was replaced with a V in the later inventory. There were two additional discrepancies: GERMANIUM versus GERMANIAM and DONI versus DNI. Ms. Kelm verified the former as GERMANIA, with a line over the A signifying a following M. Dr. Sandner confirmed the latter as DNI, with a line over the N, the Latin contraction for DOMINI. With the overpaint removed, Ms. Kelm also indicated the word JESV was spelled IHESV. The full text could now be inserted onto the template. The spacing of the letters was again based on the Penig during-cleaning image and Ms. Kelm’s July 8, 2014, clarifying e-mail. Similar to the Luther panel, letters in the same word were on different lines.

Katharina Inscription



Luther Panel With Inscriptions

Katharina Panel With Inscription



After a fourteen-month search, the original inscriptions were brought to light. One could speculate that the texts were later additions and not original to the panels. This is unlikely, for the chance that three sets of portraits in three different collections (Penig’s, von Schreiberhofen’s, and Muskegon’s) were inscribed at some unknown later date with the exact same inscriptions is virtually impossible. It is more plausible that they were inscribed at the same time in the studio of Lucas Cranach.








The Translations
While the Latin texts were now known, what did they mean? For assistance with this question, Dr. Peter White, professor in the Department of Classics, at the University of Chicago, translated the upper Luther text as:


Doctor Martin Luther, German prophet, depicted in 1521 in Pathmos at the age of 38.







Luther referred to his 1521 year-in-hiding as living in Pathmos, a reference to the Apostle John’s island of exile.

Dr. White translated Katharina’s inscription:



Katharina A Bora, wife of the most ardent apostle of Germany

of the Lord our Savior Jesus Christ, Doctor Martin Luther.
(23)



An Internet search on the lower Luther inscription offered numerous translations including:



I was a pestilence for you while living; when I die, I will be your death, Pope.



The verse was supposedly composed by Luther in 1530 and used more than once in later years. In 1537, the date of the Luther portraits, he referred to the text as his Epitapheum, or epitaph. He is said to have written it on his wall just before his death in 1546. (24)

With these translations, one final question area remained: the scraped-out coat of arms. This issue is addressed on the following page.





Page 7--The Rose



















Index Page,   Page 1--Introduction,   Page 2--Short Biographies,   Page 3--Examination,   Page 4--Treatment,
Page 5--The Hunt,   Page 6--The Inscriptions,   Page 7--The Rose,   Page 8--Final Thoughts,
Page 9--Endnotes












Footnotes

21. Schuchardt, Christian. Lucas Cranach des Älteren Leben und Werke. Vol. III, 1871. Leipzig. pp.150-151, Entries 41 and 42.

22. Steche, Dr. R. Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Königreichs Sachsen. 1890. Dresden. pp.46-47.

23. Dr. White also offered a possible alternative translation: Katharina A Bora, wife of the most ardent apostle of Germany of our Savior Jesus Christ, Lord Doctor Martin Luther.

24. Translation and Epitapheum reference from Springer, Carl. Death and Life After Death in Luther’s Latin Elegies. Proceedings of the XIV Annual Congress for Neo-Latin Studies. August, 2009. p.1056. Accessed 6/14/14 at books.google.com/books?isbn=9004227431, 6/14/14.



Home

 





Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532
e-mail:barrybbc7@yahoo.com