Hans Werl
The Burial of St Catherine of Alexandria, accompanied by three Angels

PROVENANCE: Private collection, New York.

Pen and black ink, heightened with white on paper prepared with a blue wash

212 x 260 mm (8 3/8 x 10 1/4 in.)

Hans Werl was probably the son of Daniel Werl, a footman at the court of the Bavarian dukes. In 1588-9 he was a pupil of Alessandro Scalzi, called Il Paduano (?-1596), who in turn was a collaborator and brother-in-law of Friedrich Sustris (circa 1540-1599), whose influence in Werls work is clear. In 1594 Werl became court painter to Duke Maximilian I, retaining his post after his patrons death in 1597. In 1600 he painted the Holy Virgin venerated by Female Saints for the high altar of the court chapel, still in situ, the preliminary drawing is in the Kunsthalle, Bremen.

In 1601-2 he worked with Pieter de Witte, called Pietro Candido (circa 1548-1628), decorating the Herkules-Saal reception hall in the Munich Residenz.

Our drawing is stylistically comparable to a number of drawings by Werl including Ludwig of Bavarias Coronation as Emperor, 1314, which is a design for one of the pictures from the Bavarian history commissioned by Duke Maximilian I (1517-1651) which were installed after 1601 in the Herkules-Saal, now all the paintings from this project are preserved in the Bayerische Staatsgemldesammlungen, Munich, though hung at the Filialgalerie Burghausen.1

Another drawing stylistically comparable to ours is Sts Catherine, Barbara, Ursula and three other Female Saints adoring the Virgin in Glory which relates to the decorations of the Hofkapelle, in the Residenz in Munich, undertaken by the Wittelsbach Duke Maximilian I in 1601-3.2

The attribution to Hans Werl was kindly suggested by Dr Dorothea Diemer, on the basis of a photograph. 3

The practise of colouring the background of the paper was one used by Candido in a drawing of the Supper at Emmaus in The Arts Institute of Chicago. 4 The subject matter is likely to be the burial of Saint Catherine. A tradition dating to about 800 that states angels carried her corpse to Mount Sinai, where in the 6th century Emperor Justinian had established Saint Catherines Monastery. Berhold Kress has observed that Saint Catherine was beheaded, and there is no indication of this in the drawing, though for the sake of decorum this might have been omitted. 5

1.Anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Christies, Dutch, Flemish and German Old Master Drawings, 13 November 1995, lot 257.

2.Anonymous sale, London, Sothebys, Old Master Drawings, 9 July 2003, lot 89.

3.Written communication, 19th August 2013.

4.Exhibition catalogue, The Art Museum Prinecton, October 3 1982 and elsewhere, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Drawings from the Holy Roman Empire, 1540-1680, number 42, page 122-3.

5.Written communication 31 October 2013.