A Premonstratensian Canon

Object Details


A Premonstratensian Canon


Possibly after Hans Holbein the Younger (German, 1497/1498 - 1543)




Basel, Switzerland (Place created)


about 1520


Pot-metal and colorless glass, vitreous paint, and silver stain; lead came


61 × 52 × 1 cm (24 × 20 1/2 × 3/8 in.)

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As a young artist in Switzerland, Hans Holbein the Younger is known to have made designs for stained glass. This is the only known surviving stained-glass portrait panel associated with him. It shows a male figure dressed in the habit of a canon (member of a religious order primarily charged with assisting at divine worship). He wears a pleated surplice (loose white garment with wide sleeves) over a cassock (clerical robe with a high buttoned collar), a hooded fir cape (almutium) fastened with a cord around the neck, and a cap. The figure is shown kneeling while holding a book open in his hands, as if participating in a religious service. He kneels on a short arcaded plinth at the foot of an ornate column, all set against a blue damask-patterned background below a gold tablet hanging from a green tasseled cord. The tablet is inscribed in black Gothic lettering, Stift vo Ber(eim[?]), possibly an abbreviation for “Stift von Berkheim” (monastery of Berkheim). This may refer to the Premonstratensian (a Roman Catholic religious order) abbey in Rot an der Rot near the town of Berkheim in Southern Germany, not far from the Swiss border. The curious figures behind the canon show a nude woman riding on the back of a bearded male sea monster with a curling yellow tail fin, who holds a tortoiseshell shield and the jaw bone of an animal. They seem to be derived from a print by Albrecht Dürer, The Sea Monster, of about 1498; their significance in this scene has not been determined. The two small pieces in the lower left corner appear to be fragments from another window, possibly from the same series, that later were incorporated into the current panel.

- 2003

Sam Fogg Rare Books & Manuscripts (London), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.

Images in Light: Newly Acquired Stained Glass (October 28, 2003 to April 4, 2004) (42)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 28, 2003 to April 4, 2004

Michael, Michael. Images in Light: Stained Glass, 1200-1550 (London: Sam Fogg, 2002), pp. 10, 94-99, 122, no. 42.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 192, ill.

Raguin, Virginia Chieffo. Stained Glass: Radiant Art (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), pp. 78-79, fig. 54.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 8th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 238, ill.