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Portrait of Ursula Haller, née Grundherr

Monogrammist JHF (?)

1668
oil on canvas

This female portrait in oil on canvas (relined, in a recent frame in 17th century style) bears the coat of arms of the Grundherr family and the inscription "ANNO 1668, AETATIS 66," together with an artist's monogram. The resulting birth date (1602) enables us to identify the sitter: she is Ursula Haller, née Grundherr (1602–1681), married to Hans Albrecht Haller (cf. Peter Fleischmann, Rat und Patriziat in Nürnberg, Nuremberg [2008], p. 527). We can assume with considerable certainty that there was an accompanying portrait of Haller.

However, the monogram, which can be read as JHF or JFH, and possibly even JHT or JTH, has remained unidentified. No one with such a monogram can be found in the relevant lexicons of monogrammists for the period around 1668. Nor do the lists of the painters working in Nuremberg under the Regulations of the Painter's Guild include anyone with these initials during the period concerned. Stylistically and historically, however, an artist from somewhere else is unlikely. Furthermore, no graphics based on portraits of Hans Albrecht Haller or his wife have ever been found.

The painting was once owned by jeweler and Commercial Councilor (Kommerzienrat) August Merklein, 1865-1940. A note on the back of the frame tells us that he bought the painting because of the way it portrayed the jewelry. The noteworthy costume of the period – with lace collar, chains and large fur cap – carefully reproduced in the painting, can also be seen in an engraving by Jakob von Sandrart after a 1664 painting by Rupprecht Hauer, showing Magdalena Edel, née Fürleger. Hauer cannot be the painter of our picture, however, because he died in 1667.

Gift from private Nuremberg owner.