Portrait of a Margrave in Armor
German, 1631 - 1690
Oil on copper
16 x 12 in.
This Handsome full-length portrait of a margrave in armor can be attributed to the hand of Benjamin von Block, the seventeenth century German -Hungarian painter who was known for his portrait paintings of royalty and noblemen. Block was born in 1631 into an artistic family in the city of Lubeck, located in the northern part of Germany; both his father and brothers were painters. In 1655 he traveled to Italy, and through his brother, a canon in Vienna at the time, he met Ferenc Nadasdy who invited him to produce art in Hungary. Of his paintings made there, the portraits of Nadasdy and his wife as well as that of Pal Esterhazy have survived. At Loreta and Gy6r he painted altarpieces and was commissioned to paint the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher in the mid 1650s, who later served as intermediary in a deal resulting in an order for a portrait of Pope Alexander VII. After working as a portrait painter in Siena, Florence and Venice, in 1664 Block returned to his native Germany where he married and lived in Nuremberg with his wife, the painter Anna Catharina Fischer, until 1670. There he made portraits for the margraves of Ansbach and the Vienna court.
This painting was executed during that time and is likely to be a portrait of one of the margraves of Ansbach. The margrave was a German nobleman of a rank equivalent to that of a British marquess. After a long and successful career as a portrait painter, Benjamin von Block died in Regensburg, Germany in 1690.