Art collecting was popular among the well-to-do burghers of Frankfurt during the eighteenth century, but only in the case of the banker and spice merchant Johann Friedrich Städel (1728-1816) did the private art collection end up as an art institute that was open to the public. Städel decreed in his will in 1815 that his collection should be "open for use and inspection by prospective artists and art lovers on specific days and at specific times freely and without charge, under appropriate supervision".
The bordello picture is a typical work of the artist, who was active in Antwerp during the second quarter of the sixteenth century and who is known by a name of convenience as the "Brunswick Monogrammist". His oeuvre consists of small-format biblical scenes containing numerous figures and of works showing "loose society" with a sociocritical element or critical of the Church. In Städel's collection the picture was attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger. The collector was no doubt persuaded to purchase the panel picture for its evident genre-like character.
Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.
The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.
Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:
The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.
Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.
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