Tobias Stimmer (Schaffhausen 1539 - 1584 Strasbourg), Saint james the less, holding his hatter's bow

Pen and brown ink; signed with a monogram and with partial date, lower right: TS 157; bears inscription in brown ink: S. Mathias. Estimate 40,000—60,000 USD 

PROVENANCE: North Italian church painter Pozzi, 1921

EXHIBITED: Zürich, Zeichnen, Malen Fromen, Schweizerische Landesausstellung, 1939, 1, no. 93;

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: F. Thöne, Stimmer, Freiburg 1936, cat. no. 88, fig. 93, illustrating drawing pre-restoration;
M. Bendel, Stimmer, Zürich/Berlin 1940, p. 274, cat. no. 84

NOTE: This impressive drawing by Stimmer is from a series depicting the apostles, eight of which were known to Bendel when he wrote his 1940 catalogue raisonné of the artist's drawings. The drawings of Sts. Peter and Simon are in Berlin, Judas Thaddeaus and Andrew are in Frankfurt, James the Great and John the Evangelist are in Munich, while the present drawing and that of St. Paul were then both in the Von Ziegler collection.1 Although the signature and date have been trimmed to the right, the pre-restoration photograph of the drawing published by Thöne in 1936 shows that it was originally dated 1578, like the other drawings from the series. The inscriptions identifying the saints may, however, be added, as the subject of the present drawing has been mis-identified. From his distinctive attribute of a hatter's bow, it is clear that the saint shown here is James the Less, and not Matthew. The attribute is seen in representations of James from the early 14th Century, particularly in Germany, and was used by wool-workers to clean wool and in the manufacture of felt for hats, appropriate to James as patron saint of hat-makers and mercers.

Stimmer was the leading Swiss artist of his time, producing not only wall and easel paintings, but also a wide range of designs for prints and glass panels. Perhaps his most celebrated paintings were the ceilings decorations that he executed in two phases, around 1578 and 1583, in the Neues Schloss, Baden-Baden, which are, however, sadly lost. Stimmer's drawings and prints were hugely influential, not only in his own time; copies after his prints figure prominently, for example, among the works of the young Rubens.

1. Bendel, op. cit., cat. nos. 78-85 respectively.

Sotheby's. Old Master Drawings. 28 Jan 09. New York. photo courtesy Sotheby's. www.sothebys.com