The sitter of this painting frequently has been identified as Mary of Burgundy (1457–1482), first wife of the Emperor Maximilian I, the Habsburg ruler of the Austrian Empire. As such, it would be a posthumous portrait of the empress. Although Maximilian had married his second wife Bianca Maria Sforza in 1493, this and other posthumous depictions of the first imperial family were likely commissioned to underscore the emperor’s political alliances. With Maximilian’s marriage in 1477 to Mary, the only child and heiress of Charles the Bald, the Duke of Burgundy, he obtained the Burgundian Netherlands and the Free County of Burgundy, although France had already annexed Burgundy proper. Their children also made important political alliances through marriage. Margaret married the crown prince of Spain, and Philip the Handsome married a daughter of the Spanish royal family and eventually was recognized as the Spanish king in 1506.
Another version of the painting, also by Bernhard Strigel but with a landscape seen through the window, is in the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck (n0. 100). A pendant portrait of Maximilian I, probably intended to go with the Ferdinandeum painting, was formerly in the Figdor Collection.
Strigel was a pupil of his sculptor father, Ivo Strigel, and worked in Ulm, Augsburg, and Nuremberg. He became the Emperor Maximilian’s chief portraitist beginning in 1507, and a Strigel painting of 1516 depicting Maximilian, Mary, Philip the Handsome (who died in 1506), his two sons, and an adopted son is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (n0. 832). The face of Mary in this painting is similar to that of the Dumbarton Oaks painting.
Dreger, Moriz. Die künstlerische Entwicklung der Weberei und Stickerei 1. Vienna: 1904, 242 and vol 2: pl. 259.
Baldass, Pantheon 4 (1929), 472.
Friedländer, Max J. Die Sammlung Dr. Albert Figdor, Wien: Erster Teil 3. Berlin/Vienna: 1930, no. 97, pl. 53.
International Studio 96, no. 399 (August 1930), 66, ill.
Weizinger, Frans Xavier. Die Malerfamilie der Strigel in der ehemals freien Reichsstadt Memmingen. Munich: Beck, 1908, 144, no. 40.
Kuhn, Charles Louis. Catalogue of German Paintings of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in American Collections. Cambridge, MA: 1936, 36, no. 256, pl. 53.
Thieme, Ulrich, et al. Allgemeines Lexikon 32, 188.
Gettens, Rutherford J. "Science in the Art Museum." Scientific American 187, no. 1 (July 1952), 26.
von Mackowitz, Heinz. Tirol. Vienna: 1960, 103ff.
Stange 8, 148.
Otto, Gertrud. Bernhard Strigel. In Kunstwissenschaftliche Studien 33. Munich: Deutschen Kunstverlag, 1964, 69 and 102, no. 63.
Carder, James N. "Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss and the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. In Kirin, Asen, ed. Sacred Art, Secular Context. Athens, GA: Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 2005, 29, fig. 8.
Bühl, Gudrun, editor. Dumbarton Oaks, The Collections. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (distributed by Harvard University Press), 2008, 328f, ill.
"A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 1934" The Art Institute of Chicago, 6/1-11/1/1934, cat. p. 5, no. 22.
"The Germanic Museum Exhibition of German Paintings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Lent from American Collections," Germanic Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 6/5-9/30/1936, cat. p. 12, no. 26.
"The Collector's Microbe: Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss and the Dumbarton Oaks Collections," Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, Apr. 9 - Nov. 9, 2008.
Collection of Hermann Sax, Vienna.
Collection of Prückl, Vienna.
Collection of Dr. Albert Figdor [1843-1927] (collector), Vienna.
By descent to his niece, Margarete Becker-Walz, Heidelberg.
Purchased through Royall Tyler at the Figdor Sale, Berlin, by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 9/30/1930.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, 9/30/1930-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, DC.