Sebastian Münster was born in 1488 at Ingelheim near Mainz and died in 1552 at Basel. He was a cartographer, cosmographer, and a Hebrew scholar. His work, the ‘Cosmographia’ from 1544 was the earliest German description of the world. It had numerous editions in different languages including Latin, French (translated by François de Belleforest), Italian, English, and even Czech. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after his death. The ‘Cosmographia’ was one of the most successful and popular books of the 16th century. It passed through 24 editions in 100 years. This success was due to the fascinating woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel). It was most important in reviving geography in 16th century Europe. Münster had been appointed to the University of Basel in 1527. As Professor of Hebrew, he edited the Hebrew Bible, accompanied by a Latin translation. In 1540 he published a Latin edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia with illustrations. The 1550 edition contains cities, portraits, and costumes. These editions, printed in Germany, are the most valued of the Cosmographias. Münster also wrote the Dictionarium trilingue in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and Mappa Europae (map of Europe) in 1536. He was pictured on the old 100 DM banknotes that were replaced at the beginning of the 1990s. (Wikipedia, illustrating the original Amberger portrait).
Amberger (c.1505-1562) was an Augsburg portrait painter and draughtsman whose works resemble that of Hans Holbein, but with a strong Venetian influence. This is perhaps due to Paris Bordone, who may have visited Augsburg in 1540. His family came from the Upper Palatinate. He served his apprenticeship in Augsburg, probably with Leonhard Beck, whose daughter Barbara he married. He became a master on 15 May 1530 but rarely signed his work. He was in northern Italy and Venice c.1525-7. His full-length pendant portraits of a husband and wife (both 1525; Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.) show Venetian influence, and the portrait of Anton Welser (1527; priv.col., see 1980 Exh. Cat., p.98) is in the Italian style. According to Sandrart, during the Imperial Diet of 1530 in Augsburg Amberger painted a portrait of Emperor Charles V to the Emperor’s satisfaction, but the surviving work (Berlin, Germaldegal.) dates from 1532, based on the age given. In the decades that followed, Amberger was the favourite portrait painter of ambitious merchant families, such as the Fugger, who belonged to guilds but were connected with the nobility by family or marriage ties. There are works in Augsburg, Birmingham (Barber Institute), Glasgow, Munich, Philadelphia (Johnson), Toledo, Ohio, Vienna and York. This example is after the original Amberger portrait of Sebastian Munster, the original of which resides in the Staatliche Museum, Berlin. The original is illustrated in Imago Mundi I opposite p. 35. Provenance: private collection Boston 2003.