Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


GOTTFRIED LIBALT (1610? – Vienna 1670) 

A Cavalier with a Monkey

inscribed on the reverse No. 2

brown ink and bistre on beige paper

9 ¼ x 5 ¾ inches          (245 x 155 mm.)


Sold to the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey


August Grahl, Dresden (as by Jan Le Ducq)

Estate of Professor August Grahl sale, Sotheby, Wilkinson, Hodge, April 27-28, 1885, lot 191 (as by Jan Le Ducq)

Anonymous sale, lot 478 (as by Jan Le Duc)

Dr. Max A. Goldstein, St. Louis, Missouri

Dr. Max A. Goldstein sale, Kende Galleries, New York, November 9, 1945, lot 19, illustrated (as by Jan Le Duc)

Private collection, New York until 2002



Grahl Collection, Leipzig, n.d., (RKD copy annotated no. 191, plate numbered by hand 102, as by Jan Le Ducq)

Zdeněk Kazlepka, “Chalpec s opici na rameni Zánrova scéna nebo alegorický moralizujici příklad?” in Bulletin Moravské galerie v Brnĕ, no. 68, Moravaská galerie, 2012, pp. 86, 89, 91, illustrated


Obscured by misattribution for centuries we are extremely pleased to publish the only known drawing by Gottfried Libalt recently discovered by Dr. Zdeněk Kazlepka of the Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic.  Dr. Kazlepka’s definitive attribution to Gottfried Libalt is based on an engraving (see illustration 5a.) made in 1646 in the State Regional Archive, Plzeň, Czech Republic. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston also owns an autotype print of this work, inv. no. M2935 (as by Jan Le Ducq.)[1] Libalt also possibly painted a picture derived from this image somewhat later, the moral “exemplum” Boy with a Monkey (see illustration 5b.), originally located at the Pidgirtsi Chateau, east Galicia, now the Art Gallery Lvov.[2]

The only documented event of Gottfried Libalt’s life is his death in Vienna at the house of Johann Kunibert von Wentzelsberg, an art collector as well as the chief court accommodation administrator. His oeuvre encompasses early examples of central European decorative still lifes as well as landscapes, religious and genre subjects. Examples of the artist’s works can be found in the Szépmüveszeti Museum, Budapest; National Gallery, Prague; four in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, as well as the museums of Bojnice, Slovakia; Ludwigsburg, Germany; and Tarnow, Poland. Religious institutions possessing paintings by Libalt include St. Petri Kirche, Hamburg; Nova Rise Monastery, Moravia; and the Strahov Monastery, Prague.  Historic Czech chateaus featuring works by the artist include Kynzvart, Losiny, Nebilovy, Ratiborice, Rozmberk, Valtice and Velke.[3]

The unusual scene depicted in this drawing is at first glance baffling. A fashionable young gentleman has released a pet monkey from its tether. The man’s hat has fallen to the ground and in its place the monkey sits grooming his master. Since the middle ages monkeys had been kept as pets, a source of pleasure and amusement. As such their role paralleled that of court jester or fool. Early on this theme was taken up in literature and art, most notably in a sheet of drawings by Hans Cranach in the Kestner Museum, Hanover. The sheet contains several sketches of a pet monkey, as well as a man labeled “fool” with a monkey on his shoulders. The monkey appears to be giving advice to his captor, in essence making it a visualization of the concept of following “fool’s counsel”.[4]  Gottfried Libalt has taken the theme one step further, since his monkey has dispensed with talking and is engaged in grooming his owner. The traditional theme of a woman grooming a child was linked to then current beliefs that a well-groomed exterior was reflective of a clean interior.[5]  The act itself was regarded as a purification of the soul.[6] Libalt’s substitution of a monkey in the woman’s role turns the accepted iconography on its head. The monkey, always associated with vice and lust, puts these passions directly into his unwitting master’s head. The viewer is thus warned against unleashing evil and following its lead.

This drawing was first recorded as being part of the famous collection of the portraitist and miniaturist August Grahl (1791 – 1868). Born in Mecklenburg, Grahl received his artistic training at the Berlin Academy. In 1821 he traveled to Italy and it is there that he began his collection of old master drawings. After a sojourn in Vienna, (which is perhaps where he acquired the drawing by Libalt) Grahl returned to Italy from 1823 – 1830, all the while continually collecting. By 1831 he was working in England, but returned to Germany in 1832 to marry his second wife the daughter of a wealthy Königsberg banker. Throughout his life he continued to pursue old master drawings which ultimately resulted in an important collection that totaled several thousand.[7]

The drawing’s next known owner was Dr. Max A. Goldstein (1870 – 1941) of St. Louis, Missouri. His entire medical career was devoted to the treatment and aid of deaf children. When his drawing collection was sold in 1945 it was for the benefit of the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis. He also served as president of the St. Louis Art League, and in 1918, in collaboration with fellow drawing collector Milton I.D. Einstein, published a revised edition of L. Fagan’s Collector’s Marks to which 260 new marks were added. Dr. Goldstein’s drawing collection totaled about 400 works of American, English, Dutch, Flemish, French and Italian origin.[8]

We are indebted to Dr. Zdeněk Kazlepka of the Moravian Gallery, Brno for his discovery of the correct authorship of this drawing to Gottfried Libalt as well as biographical information on the artist.



[1] Etching, marked on the right G. Libalt. Invent. 1646. State Regional Archive, Plzeň, inv. no. RA Nostic 42/229. Georg Kaspar Nagler ed.; Die Monogrammisten, München 1919, volume III, p. 43, nr. 126 (”Libolt”); and written communications from Dr. Zdeněk Kazlepka dated February 22, 2012 and May 24, 2012.

[2] Zdeněk Kazlepka, “Der Maler Gottfried Libalt (1610–1673) zwischen den Genres: Stillleben, Porträt und Landschaftsmalerei”, in Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien, 8/9, 2006/ 2007, p. 66; and written communications from Dr. Zdeněk Kazlepka dated February 22, 2012 and May 24, 2012.

[3] Zdeněk Kazlepka, “eines mit tottn köpffn, daß andere mit hierschköpffen und daß dritte mit frichten“. Der Maler Gottfried Libalt (1610–1673) und seine Stillleben für Fürsten und Klöster,” in: Friedrich Polleroβ ed., Reiselust & Kunstgenuss. Barockes Böhmen, Mähren und Österreich (exhibition catalogue), Geras–Nová Říše, Petersberg 2004, pp. 37–48; Zdeněk Kazlepka, “Der Maler Gottfried Libalt (1610–1673) zwischen den Genres: Stillleben, Porträt und Landschaftsmalerei,” in Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien, 8/9, 2006/2007, pp. 61–77; and written communications from Dr. Zdeněk Kazlepka dated February 22, 2012 and May 24, 2012.

[4] H.W. Janson, Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, London, 1952, p. 211, pl. XXXVII.

[5] Wayne E. Franits, Paragons of Virtue, Cambridge, 1995, p. 191.

[6] Peter C. Sutton, “Jan Miense Molenaer,” in exhibition catalogue Philadelphia Museum of Art, Masters of Seventeenth Century Dutch Genre Painting, March 18-May 13, 1984, p. 263.

[7] Frits Lugt, “Dr. Max A. Goldstein” in Les Marques de Collections de Dessins & D’Estampes, Vereenigde Drukkerijen, Amsterdam, 1921, no. 2824, p. 525.

[8] Biographical information taken from Dr. Ulrich Thieme and Dr. Felix Becker, “August Grahl” in Allgemeines Lexikon den Bildenden Künstler, Veb E.A. Seeman Verlag, Leipzig, volume XIV, 1921, p. 493; and Frits Lugt, “A. Grahl” in Les Marques de Collections de Dessins & D’Estampes, Vereenigde Drukkerijen, Amsterdam, 1921, no. 1199, p. 210. 

Fig 5a: Engraving after Gottfried Libalt,&nbsp; A Cavalier with a Monkey , executed 1646, State Regional Archive, Plzen, Czech Republic

Fig 5a: Engraving after Gottfried Libalt, A Cavalier with a Monkey, executed 1646, State Regional Archive, Plzen, Czech Republic

Fig 5b: Gottfried Libalt,&nbsp; Boy with a Monkey , Art Gallery Lvov, Ukraine

Fig 5b: Gottfried Libalt, Boy with a Monkey, Art Gallery Lvov, Ukraine

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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