Point of view #19
Martin Marquart. A Goldsmith and his Hidden Side
Point of View #19 showcases the impressive portrait of Martin Marquart, a goldsmith from Augsburg, which was painted around 1560. Both the front and the panel’s back - presumably on display for the very first time - now shine in new splendour following a recent restoration intervention. The back features a highly unusual composition: in the presence of a weeping Cupid a satyr presents a nude female figure with a necklace, a symbol of love for sale. We may assume that the male patron – personified by the venal and ugly satyr – has lost the joy of love, hence Cupid’s lamentations; but at least he has enough spare cash to be able to purchase sexual gratification. Marquart presumably commissioned the back when he was older and a widower, in which case the scene should be read tongue-in-cheek, with the depicted goldsmith work also cleverly referencing his profession. Thus the panel may have functioned as a kind of door (of a cupboard or a niche) in the goldsmith’s private quarters where only selected visitors had the opportunity to view its suggestive back. Traces of hinges suggest that one could close or fold it back.
In the third quarter of the sixteenth century, Martin Marquart – his surname is recorded in the (renewed) inscription on the front - was among the most successful goldsmiths active at Augsburg, then a centre of goldsmith work.
For a long time, art historians believed the anonymous painter of this unsigned work to be one of the followers of Christoph Amberger, the celebrated portrait painter from Augsburg. However, there is much to support the suggestion that he was, in fact, an artist from the Low Countries who had trained in Italy.
The Picture Gallery has been staging Points of View since 2012, and the series documents its role as a place of research, scholarship and education. Three times a year these small exhibitions showcase a selected work from the collection, inviting visitors to see it with new eyes and presenting the results of recent research.