A pair of Renaissance court frames
Workshop of Christoph Angermair (ca 1580-1633)
Munich, ca 1625
Ebony, palmwood, rosewood, pearwood
Old glued-on inventory label: ‘166’, ‘167’, ‘713/2’, ‘91.’
Height approx 27 cm, width approx 23.5 cm, depth approx 5.5 cm
These exceptionally magnificent frames are stylistically related to various pieces of fine furniture commissioned for the Munich court in the second quarter of the 17th century and now held in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. First, three superlative tables with alabaster and pietra dura tops should be mentioned in this connection. Commissioned by Duke Maximilian I (reign 1597-1651) ca 1620-1630 to furnish the Kammergalerie in the Munich Residenz, these extraordinary works of cabinetry are structurally comparable to the frames discussed here in their architectural organisation and also boast a similar stunning combination of intarsia and sculpturally handled wood elements. The affinity between the showy Munich tables and the present pair of frames is unmisktakable: they were obviously made in the same workshop. Attribution to the Munich chest-making workshop of Christoph Angermair (ca 1580–1633), a sculptor in ivory, in turn is based on comparison with the ornate housing Angermair caused to be made in 1624 for the ivory coin shrine he had been commissioned to create for Maximilian I.That superb piece of furniture originally stood, with its housing, in the Kammergalerie – an elongated room like a corridor linking Maximilian’s private apartments with those of his wife and devoted to the most valuable objects in the collections owned by the Duke of Bavaria. In 1607 Maximilian I arranged for a selection of paintings and treasures to be removed from the ducal Kunstkammer and installed in the Kammergalerie in order to have them ‘every day before my face and in sight’ [‘teglich im gesicht und vor augen’]. The Kammergalerie was a very private collection room, a treasury that was for Maximilian a source of daily edification and a place to which no one besides the Duke himself and his wife had access. In the Kammergalerie a selection of vessels, including the ivory and ebony cups Maximilian I had himself turned on the lathe, worked in gold, jasper, rock crystal, rhinoceros horn and ivory stood on the above mentioned ornate tables. However, the focus of attention amid the dazzling works of art displayed there was on paintings executed on canvas and vellum and panels of wood or stone. Pictures in small formats were often enhanced with magnificent frames like the present ones.