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Thursday, 2 April 2020

Johann Kenckel’s mezzotint of Martin Luther’s wife, c.1715

Johann Kenckel (aka Johann Kenkel) (1688–1722)

“Portrait of Katharina of Bora”— wife of Martin Luther—(aka “Catharina aus dem Adelichen Geschlecht derer von Bore” [title on plate]), c.1715 (1708–22), after Lucas Cranach the Elder (c.1472–1553), published by Christoph Weigel (1654–1725) in Nuremberg.

Mezzotint with early hand-colouring trimmed with a small margin and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 38.1 x 27.5 cm; (plate) 35.8 x 25.5 cm; (image borderline) 32.5 x 25.5 cm.

Lettered on plate below the image borderline:
(left) “Lucas Kranach pinx”;

(centre) “Catharina aus dem Adelichen Geschlecht derer von Bore,/ ward gebohren A.1499. rerließ mit Acht andern Gaistlichen Schwestern A:1523. das Gistercienser Closter Nimptsch beÿ Grimma, ward A. 1525./ den 13 Junu durch D. Foh. Bugenhagen , Pomeranum , Pfarrern in Wittenberg. D.Martin Luthern Professorn daselbst chelich angetrauct, zeugte mit ihm/ Sechs Kinder, als dreÿ Söhne und so viel Töchter, namentlich: A.1526.d.7. Jun. Johannem, A.1527.Elisabetham, A.1529. in rigil. Ascens. Magda =/ lenam, A.1531. d.7. Nov. Martinum, A. 1533. d.28. Jan. Paulum. und A. 1534. Margaretham, hielte ihrem Eheherrn allezeitals ein fromm treuc ehr =/ liches lGemahl liebund werth mard A.1546. d. 18. Fébr: zur Witme, und starb A.1552. d.20.Dacembr zu Torgan im 53, ten jahr ihres alters,woselbst sie auch in der Pfarr Kirche begraben/ Christ Weigel ex:” 

([Google transl.] Catharina from the Adelichen family of those of Bore, / was born A.1499. left with eight other Gaistliche sisters A: 1523. the Gistercienser Closter Nimptsch beÿ Grimma, A. 1525. / 13th June was by D. Foh. Bugenhagen, Pomeranum, pastors in Wittenberg. D.Martin Luthern professor there chelich, fathered with him / six children, as three sons and so many daughters, namely: A.1526.d.7. Jun. Johannem, A.1527. Elizabetham, A.1529. in rigorous. Ascens. Magda = / lenam, A.1531. d.7. Nov. Martinum, A. 1533. d.28. Jan Paulum. and A. 1534. Margaretham, always considered her husband to be a piously faithful honest husband Liebund werth mard A.1546. d. 18. Fébr: to Witme, and died A.1552. d.20.Dacembr zu Torgan in the 53rd year of their age, where they are also buried in the parish church / Christ Weigel ex:); 

(right) “Joh: Kenckel fecit”.

The British Museum offers a description of this print:

Condition: strong impression with delicate early hand-colouring and the initial guide lines for lettering of the artist’s name still clear—suggesting that this is possibly a lifetime impression—with small margins laid onto a support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. There are small restored chips to the edges and corners of the sheet and minor restorations of a few light abrasions to the delicate surface of the mezzotint, otherwise the sheet is in very good condition for its considerable age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds or significant stains).

I am selling this exceptionally rare mezzotint portrait of Martin Luther’s wife for the total cost of AU$300 (currently US$182.61/EUR166.80/GBP147.23 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this  technically superb masterpeice of mezzotint showing Martin Luther’s wife gently smiling—to my eyes, an almost Mona Lisa-like enigmatic smile—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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