Nicolas Neufchatel (active ?Antwerp before 1539-c. 1573 Nuremberg)
VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buy… Read more ART FOR FUTURE – SELECTED WORKS FROM THE UNICREDIT GROUPChristie’s is delighted to work with UniCredit managing the sale of some of the bank’s artworks from Austria, Germany and Italy. The proceeds will be primarily used to support the Group’s Social Impact Banking (SIB) initiatives. The remaining balance will be dedicated to other relevant projects, including the local support of young artists. In addition, UniCredit will also look to replace the masterpieces sold with works of young and emerging artists. The artworks are being offered at various Christie’s international salerooms across a range of marquee week sales that started in 2019 and are continuing throughout 2020.Social Impact Banking is part of UniCredit’s commitment to building a fairer and more inclusive society. It aims to identify, finance and promote people and companies that can have a positive social impact. As well as continuing to provide credit to projects and organisations not usually served by the traditional banking sector, UniCredit employees educate micro-entrepreneurs, social enterprises and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, building valuable networks within our communities. SIB also focuses on monitoring and measuring outcomes, essential for sustainable growth. In 2019 it was rolled out in 10 additional UniCredit markets.
Nicolas Neufchatel (active ?Antwerp before 1539-c. 1573 Nuremberg)

Portrait of Valentin Kötzler (1499-1564), half-length, in a fur lined black gown and a black hat

Nicolas Neufchatel (active ?Antwerp before 1539-c. 1573 Nuremberg)
Portrait of Valentin Kötzler (1499-1564), half-length, in a fur lined black gown and a black hat
inscribed with the sitter's initials and age 'V . K . D . / ANNO ÆTATIS LXVI.' (upper left);
and inscribed and dated 'NACH CHRISTI GEPVRT IM 1564 IAR / DIESES PILDT HIE ABGEMALET WAR' (upper right)
oil on canvas
38 7/8 x 33 ¼ in. (98.6 x 84.5 cm.)
Gräfin Hatzfeldt (according to a label on the reverse).
(Possibly) with the German Embassy, London (according to a note on the reverse).
with Kunstsalon (Gemälde-Galerie) Abels, Cologne, 1954.
with Walter Andreas Hofer, Munich, from whom acquired by the current owner in 1957.
W. Schmidt, 'Nicolaus von Neufchatel', Jahrbücher für Kunstwissenschaft, 1871, p. 145.
R.A. Peltzer, 'Nicolas Neufchatel und seine Nürnberger Bildnisse', Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, III, 1926, p. 227, no. 666.
P. Strieder, 'Zur Nürnberger Bildniskunst des 16. Jahrhunderts', Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, VII, 1956, pp. 133-34.
B. Kopplin, ed., Kunst in der Vereinsbank: 1500 bis 1950, Munich, 1997, pp. 74-77.
C.C. Kretschmann, c. 1667-1686.
Special notice
VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium

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Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair

Lot Essay

This physically imposing and psychologically penetrating portrait of the Nuremberg lawyer Valentin Kötzler was painted by Nicolas Neufchatel in 1564. Having trained in Antwerp, Neufchatel moved to the artistically, culturally and commercially significant city of Nuremberg, and quickly established himself as one of the leading portrait painters in Germany during the 1560s. This rare portrait by the artist, which has never before been publicly exhibited, builds on the rich tradition of portraiture established in Nuremberg by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) and his pupil and key successor, Georg Pencz (c. 1500-1550), earlier in the century.
Neufchatel has been identified with the ‘Colyn van Nieucasteel’ listed in the archives of Antwerp’s Guild of Saint Luke in 1539 as a pupil of Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502-1550). While his master was not a portrait painter, Neufchatel was exposed in Antwerp to the art of Frans Floris (c. 1519/20-1570), the young Willem Key (c. 1515/16-1568) and the Master of the 1540s, whose work Peltzer proposed could be Neufchatel’s juvenilia (op. cit.). It is likely that he moved to Germany due to religious reasons and would no doubt have been attracted to the Renaissance city of Nuremberg, which remained one of the greatest artistic and commercial centres in Europe throughout the sixteenth century. Nuremberg became an Imperial Free City under Rudolf I (reign 1273-1291) and enjoyed close relations with the German emperors until 1806 when it was annexed by Bavaria. In 1423, Emperor Sigismund chose Nuremberg as the permanent guardian of the Imperial regalia and relics, which embodied the Divine Right and the continuity of the Empire. Nuremberg boasted a rich tradition in portrait painting: Schneckenburger-Broschek has argued that by the late-fifteenth century portraiture was the most prominent of all pictorial genres in the city, and that more than a quarter of all surviving late Medieval portraits were painted there (A. Schneckenburger-Broschek, Die altdeutsche Malerei, Kassel, 1982, p. 30). This tradition reached its zenith in the sixteenth century - in the art of Dürer and Pencz - when portrait painting in Nuremberg reached a level of sophistication rivalled by few other centres in Northern Europe.
Neufchatel is first documented in Nuremberg in 1561 and, although the last secure reference of him in the city is in 1567, he is likely to have remained there until at least 1573, when he executed and dated a portrait of the sculptor Johann Gregor van der Schardt (Trieste, Museo Storico, Castello di Miramare). All of his known works – about 40 to 50 portraits and a few attributed drawings - were produced between 1561 and 1573, and although he dated roughly half of his portraits, the present painting included, only those of the mathematician, calligrapher and biographer of artists, Johann Neudörfer and his Son of 1561 (Munich, Alte Pinakothek, on loan to Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum) and that of van der Schardt are signed, both on their frames. The majority of his patrons were Nuremberg patricians, humanists and artists.
Neufchatel was already well established in the city when he was commissioned to paint this portrait of Valentin Kötzler in 1564. In the same year, the city council of Nuremberg paid Neufchatel a gratuity of 32 florins for his gift of the portrait of Johann Neudörfer and his Son. Shortly after, his portrait of the goldsmith, artist and printmaker, Wenzel Jamnitzer also entered the civic collection (now Geneva, Musées d'art et d'histoire). Two years later, the city of Nuremberg paid the artist 100 florins for three pairs of portraits of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and his daughter Anna of Austria (several copies of which survive).
Kötzler is presented in this portrait in a highly restrained and dignified manner, befitting of his position, wearing the legal robes and cap of his profession. Neufchatel has portrayed the sitter’s likeness with considerable skill, the subtle modelling on the flesh tones is contrasted with the execution of the beard, which is described with individual strokes of the brush. As well as creating a convincing likeness, Neufchatel has captured something of Kötzler’s character. It was precisely this attention to detail and analysis of character that led to some of Neufchatel’s works being mistakenly attributed to Hans Holbein in the past. The three-quarter-length format of this portrait is something that Neufchatel would no doubt have learnt from Pencz, who is credited with introducing this format to Germany earlier in the century. Pencz employed this format to great effect in his magnificent Portrait of Sigismund Baldinger, extending it slightly more to incorporate the sitter's knees (fig. 1; Christie's, London, 6 July 2010, lot 30, £5,641,250). It had doubtless been observed by Pencz in Venice, in portraits by Titian, Lorenzo Lotto and others. The format had been championed by Titian from as early as 1510, the period of his La Schiavona (London, The National Gallery; one of the first-ever three-quarter-length portraits). This format, which came to be known as the Kniestück in the north, enjoyed considerable popularity in Germany.
The Kötzler family acquired citizenship in Nuremberg in the mid-fourteenth century. Valentin Kötzler was the son of Georg Kötzler (1471-1529), a Nuremberg merchant, who is mentioned in Dürer’s diary of his journey to the Netherlands between 1520 and 1521 (Georg and Dürer were marooned together in a ship off the coast of Arnemuiden in December 1520; J.A. Goris and G. Marlier, eds., Albrecht Dürer: Diary of his Journey to the Netherlands, London, 1971, p. 78). Valentin married Anna (d. 1582), daughter of Georg Dietheren, on 22 April 1534 and the couple had eight children. He was appointed as a legal adviser to the Council of Nuremberg in 1528, which involved not only providing legal advice, but also participating on the city’s behalf in negotiations and diplomatic missions. Most significantly, he was instrumental in updating the rnberger Reformation, which was one of a series of legal works drafted in Imperial cities across Germany in the late-fifteenth century known as ‘Reformations’ or ‘New Reformations’. The rnberger Reformation, which dated from 1479, comprised a complete codification of city law, combining traditional domestic law with more standardised Roman law. Kötzler was charged with redrafting this Reformation and worked to comprehensively define the limits of the application of Roman Law in Nuremberg (H. Kind and H. Rohlfing, Gutenberg und der europäische Frühdruck: zur Erwerbungsgeschichte der Göttinger Inkunabelsammlung, Göttingen, 1995, p. 78). Kötzler’s efforts were eventually published as the 4th edition of the rnberger Reformation in the year of his death. With some subsequent re-editions, it remained the law of the Imperial city until 1806 and the end of the Holy Roman Empire (U. Grimm, in In Stein gehauene Rechtsgeschichte aus zwei Jahrtausenden Von Kaiser Justinian bis Johann Adam von Seuffert, Nuremburg, 2008, p. 28). The Imperial cities which established these Reformations thus essentially established modern legislation. This portrait is likely to have been commissioned to mark Kötzler’s achievements.
We are grateful to Professor Jeffrey Chipps Smith for confirming the attribution, on the basis of images.

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