Nicolas Glockendon, The Beheading of St. John the Baptist and the Feast of Herod, miniature from a grand biblical text, signed by the artist, from an illuminated manuscript on parchment
[southern Germany (Nuremberg), c. 1520-30]
Rectangular cutting with a miniature , by Nikolaus Glockendon in two scenes on the left and right of the space, separated by a large Renaissance pillar, to the left the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist with the executioner offering the severed head to Salome, outside and visible through a large ornamental arch, to the right Salome presenting the plate with the head to her mother Herodias and King Herod within an interior feasting hall, artist's monogram "NG" in the lower left corner on the stone podium of the decapitated saint, the parchment mounted on a wooden panel, the surface varnished and yellowed causing some darkening and difficulties in viewing detail, small wormholes, overall fair and presentable condition, 185 by 255mm.; framed
1. In Italian trade in the second half of the nineteenth century, with a printed ticket of that date on reverse, noting this was item '30' in a catalogue or stock list, and with the title "Banchetto di Erode" and the price code "ayyy". With a blue edged collection label of same date there, inscription scraped away.
2. Chester D. Tripp (1882-1974) of Chicago, industrialist, collector and patron of the arts: inscribed on reverse of panel: "The Execution of St. John, exhibited: Art Institute of Chicago, coll: Estate of Chester D. Tripp".
Nikolaus Glockendon ( c . 1490/95-1533/34) of Nuremberg was the foremost illuminator in sixteenth-century Germany. He was born into a family of illuminators who worked for at least three generations on illuminated manuscripts, painted coats of arms, prints, publishing and cartography: his father was Georg Glockendon the Elder (d. 1514), his brother was Albrecht Glockendon ( c . 1495-1545), and he himself was the father of Gabriel ( c . 1515/20-c.1585) and Sebastian ( c . 1525/26-1555). He was a contemporary and pupil of Albrecht Dürer, and frequently reworked Dürer's compositions (as here, see below), working after 1523 principally for Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg, but also for also for Duke Johann Friedrich of Saxony, Duke Albrecht of Prussia, the Nuremberg city council, and wealthy patrician families of the region. His work is now recorded in at least thirty surviving codices and twenty-three single leaves (see T. Eser und A. Grebe, Heilege und Hasen: Büchschätze der Dürerzeit , 2008, and U. Merkl, Buchmalerei in Bayern , 1999, pp. 88-98).
The miniature here was inspired by two engravings by Dürer, one at the National Museum, Melbourne and the other in the Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg, with Glockendon adopting the subjects and the compositions, drawing out from them figures of Salome, the executioner and the cityscape background. That said, the courtier in the right foreground who stoops to pour a glass of wine from a flagon is completely Glockendon's own. The size and shape of this miniature indicates it was produced for a far larger and grander codex than a private prayerbook. It may have been part of a Historienbibel or a grand German Biblical codex such as the contemporary Ottheinrich Bible, now reunited in the Bayersiche Staatsbibliothek.
The last examples of his work to sell at auction were the single miniature with the Adoration of the Magi in Sotheby's Old Masters sale, 27 January 2010, lot 64, for £17,500, and another miniature with the Deposition of Christ, again sold at Sotheby's, 7 July 2015, lot 35, realising £10,000. To these should be added the complete prayerbook made for Helena Hofmann, offered by Jörn Günther in a special catalogue in 2016.