'Not pretty, but good-natured of course'
Welcome panel showing a country girl and the donor, Christoph Stebenhaber (d.1574) from Memmingen
Signed with LS monogram in ligature - Lorenz Stöer? (c. 1530-1599)
34.5 × 22.5cm
Clear and polychrome moulded and flashed glasses, particularly sophisticated etching in the red flashed glass, painted with black and brown vitreous paint, blue enamel and yellow silver stain; completely original condition, exceptionally well preserved
According to the Stebenhaber family chronicle (the Familia Stebenhaberiana of 1677), this panel was originally in the family abode on the market place in Memmingen
This panel shows the donor after his return from a Turkish campaign: he is expensively dressed in Turkish attire, golden chains of honour hanging around his neck, with a dagger at his right side and a halbard in his left hand. In his right hand he holds a tall, nubby wine beaker, full to the top, which he passes to a country girl in rural garb, on the other side of his arms, who is barefoot and holds a pitchfork in her left hand.
This unusual motif – a man passing a wine beaker to a woman, and a woman then of lower standing to boot – suggests that the unmarried Christoph Stebenhaber is here honouring the woman as his life companion and openly pledging himself to her. The saying on the inscription banderole, here raised to the status of family motto, indicates what it came down to for the donor in his choice: she did not have to be beautiful, but of a friendly nature, accommodating, and of a good disposition. She reaches confidently for the glass with her right hand.
The donor matriculated in Tübingen in 1553 and later often spent time in Augsburg. For this reason, it is likely that this panel originates from the most important artistic centre of the sixteenth century in the vicinity of Nuremberg.
A drawing, dated 1568 but executed in 1569, of the original design for this panel may be found in the Stebenhaber family chronicle of 1667 in the Memmingen city archives. Instead of the date seen on the drawing the panel has the artist’s monogram signature LS, which can most probably be identified as Lorenz Stöer.
A very interesting historical piece and beautiful collector’s item.