Christoph Amberger, German, ca. 1505 - 1561 or 1562
Portrait of Magdalena Mannlichen, Wife of Ambrosius Jung, 1540
Oil on panel
31 × 26 ¼ in. (78.7 × 66.7 cm)
Little is known about the early life of German painter Christoph Amberger, including the date and place of his birth. His work shows the influence of Venetian painting, and it is thought that he spent some time in Northern Italy before settling in Augsburg, a lively cultural center and one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Germany in the 16th century. On May 15, 1530, Amberger was admitted into the city’s guild of painters and soon was among its most sought-after portraitists. His commissions included Emperor Charles V and several members of the powerful Fugger family.
The subject of this portrait is Magdalena Mannlichen, the second wife of Ambrosius Jung, a highly respected physician in Augsburg. She is identified by an inscription at the upper left that gives her name, along with her birth and death dates (July 30, 1503–March 16, 1563), all under a family crest. At the upper right appear her parents’ names, Simon Mannlich and Anna Stünzen, and their coats of arms. Above the sitter’s black cap is written 1540, presumably the work’s date. All of the inscriptions appear to be by a hand other than Amberger’s and must have been added after the completion of the painting, given that they include the sitter’s death date.
Mannlichen’s husband, Ambrosius Jung, appears in a companion portrait also owned by the Menil Collection (1982-08.1). In 1538 Jung was officially admitted to Augsburg’s peerage; however, he was refused entry to the city’s chamber of lords due to Mannlichen’s lower social status. They likely commissioned the portraits in reaction to this social discrimination. Both Jung and Mannlichen are pictured wearing dark robes with broad fur collars–garments that were only available to members of the upper class.