A Sleeping Woman (Vanitas)

A Sleeping Woman (Vanitas)
Artist:
Georg Pencz (German, c.1500-1550)
Date:
1544  
Medium:
Oil on canvas 
Dimensions:
37 x 69 in. (94.0 x 175.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon 
Accession Number:
F.1982.2.1.P 
Copyright:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View
Description

George Pencz worked in Dürer's atelier. Like his master, he visited Italy and was profoundly influenced by Venetian art. This painting was certainly meant to be a collector's cabinet piece or bedroom hanging. Pencz has drawn freely from the Venetian examples of Giorgione and his followers, and the painting's main interest is undoubtedly erotic.

The exactitude and distinctness with which the body is rendered, however, is typically Northern. Equally Northern are the crisply defined still life elements in the niche, meant to embroider this secular subject with moral allusions and narrative potential. Certain conventional allusions, like the sleeping figure, associated with moral failure, and the just-extinguished candle, indicative of time passing, suggest the theme of "vanitas." Pencz has dated his painting on the wall at left and inscribed his initials on the candle snuffer in the niche.

Provenance:

Private collection, southern France (Richard Goetz?).
Christophe Bernoulli, Basle, to;
[Kate Perls, Paris, 1936, by descent to];
[(Klaus) Perls Gallery, New York, consigned 28 December 1945 to];
[Schaeffer Galleries, New York, stock no. 1074, returned April 1951 to];
[Perls Gallery, New York].
Anonymous (sale, London, Sotheby’s, 22 June 1960, lot 57, sold to);
Johnson.
Bernoulli, sold for $2,000 Feburary 1969 to;
[Schaeffer Galleries, New York and Perls Gallery, New York, stock no. 2586, 29 May 1973 to];
Norton Simon, Malibu, gift 1982 to;
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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