Brothel Scene, The Brunswick Monogrammist
The Brunswick Monogrammist
Brothel Scene
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The Brunswick Monogrammist

Brothel Scene, ca. 1540 – 1550

32.7 x 45.5 x min. 0.3 cm
maximum depth
0.6 cm
Physical Description
Mixed technique on oak
Inventory Number
Acquired in 1816 with the founder’s bequest
On display, 2nd upper level, Old Masters, room 7


About the Acquisition

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.


  • Basic information
  • Focus on Frankfurt

Work Data

Basic Information

Brothel Scene
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Mixed technique on oak
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Lesbar sind nur zwei der Inschriften, nämlich an der Seite des Kaminmantels: porn[...] (pornia = Bordell; porna=Dirne); anus/anis (ānus=Hintern; anus=die Alte [verächtlich])

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 1816 with the founder’s bequest

Work Content

Motifs and References


  • 41C52 carousal, drinking-bout, orgy
  • 41C71 alcoholic drinks
  • 41C322 mug, beaker, goblet
  • 41C326 jar, jug (used as drinking-vessel)
  • 41A711 table
  • 41B21 open hearth, fire-place
  • 33C41 man and woman cohabiting

Research and Discussion


Object History
Johann Friedrich Städel (1728–1816), Frankfurt am Main
Nachlass Johann Friedrich Städel, 1816.


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 type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

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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