Richard Symonds. The Collection of ye Earle of Northumbld in Suffolke house. December 27, 1652, fol. 91V [British Library, Egerton MSS 1636.; published in Wood, 1994, p. 303], item no.  is "A Ritratto of an English Knight. by Holben who sitts in a Chayre & a Table by him." [probably our picture; the single Holbein listed in inventory].
Symon Stone. A Note of the Pictures at Northumberland House, taken and appraised by mr. Symon Stone. June 30, 1671 [MS 107, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, published in Wood 1994, p. 304], lists as item no.  "A Mans Picture Done by Holben" [probably our picture; the single Holbein listed in inventory].
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 3, pp. 32, 41–42, as in the collection of Col. Wyndham, Petworth; refers to it as Holbein's "Portrait of a man with a letter in his hand; quite in front; a scroll before him. A very good picture; painted about 1530.".
Ralph Nicholson Wornum. Some Account of the Life and Works of Hans Holbein, Painter, of Augsburg. London, 1867, pp. 288–89, based on the inscription identifies the sitter as the Stahlhof or Steelyard merchant Derick Berck; transcribes the letter as "Dem ersam und fors'nn (?) Derick Berck to Londen uyt (?) Stahlhof * * * befall ds briff," reads the motto on the scrap of paper at left as "Olim meminisse juvabit," and the date as, "Añ. 1536, Aeta: 30"; observes that the portrait is "possibly genuine, but it may have suffered by time, and by restoration".
Alfred Woltmann. Holbein und seine Zeit. Vol. 2, Leipzig, 1868, p. 213, as with Lord Leconfield at Petworth; discusses it among Holbein's Stahlhof portraits, and transcribes the inscription as "Dem Ersam vnd / firnem derick berck to / londen vyt stallhoff S . . "; transcribes the Latin inscription as "Olim meminisse iuuabit," and understands it as meaning the portrait was intended for a dear friend as a memento; notes that the inscription at bottom right, which he reads as "AN. 1536 ÆTA: 30," is repeated at the upper edge in "shmutziger Goldschrift" [this is still visible in early reproductions]; comments on the sitter's "unusually benevolent, sincere, and kindly" expression and the "mild gravity" of his features, as well as on the fine handling of the shirt with its "Spanish work".
Alfred Woltmann. Holbein und seine Zeit. Vol. , Des Kunstlers Familie, Leben und Schaffen. 2nd rev. ed. Leipzig, 1874, p. 410.
Alfred Woltmann. Holbein und seine Zeit. Vol. 2, Excurse, Beilagen, Verzeichnisse der Werke von Hans Holbein d. Ä., Ambrosius Holbein, Hans Holbein d. J.. 2nd rev. ed. Leipzig, 1876, p. 149, no. 241.
Paul Mantz. Hans Holbein. Paris, , p. 186.
[F. G. Stephens]. "The Royal Academy.—Winter Exhibition (Second Notice)." Athenæum no. 2725 (January 17, 1880), p. 93, comments that "Every one must admire the animated, earnest look of the face, and the smile rising in the eyes and but half suppressed on the lips; the flossy beard and the hair are Holbein's, and the whole does credit to the painter".
Hermann Freytag. "Das Bildnis eines Danzigers, von Hans Holbein gemalt." Zeitschrift des westpreussischen Geschichtsvereins no. 40 (1899), p. 108, identifies a group of six Steelyard portraits by Holbein, including this picture, at Petworth.
Gerald S. Davies. Hans Holbein the Younger. London, 1903, p. 219.
Paul Ganz. "Two Unpublished Portraits by Holbein." Burlington Magazine 20 (October 1911), p. 32, ill. p. 33, describes the sitter, "Derick Berck of Cologne," as represented "in the same posture of parade [frontal pose] in which Holbein painted his countrymen Cyriacus Fallen and Dirck Tybis of Duisberg"; reads the inscription on the letter as "Dem Ersame' u(n)d fromen Derich berk i. London upt. Stalhoff," followed by the trademark of his house and the motto,"besad dz end ('Consider the end')"; notes that although this portrait is not in good condition, it is one of Holbein's masterpieces; mentions an unfinished copy of it in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, "which cannot be compared to the undubitably genuine work at Petworth"; believes the Latin phrase, "Olim meminisse juvabit," suggests that Holbein's brush will lend the sitter immortality.
Paul Ganz. Hans Holbein d. J.: Des Meisters Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1912, pp. 241, 257, ill. p. 107, notes that this portrait is dated twice, calling the lower inscription authentic, but overpainted, and the inscription at the upper right (no longer visible) a later addition; mentions overpainting in the face and hands.
Arthur B. Chamberlain. Hans Holbein the Younger. London, 1913, vol. 2, pp. 4, 22–23, 351, pl. 5, calls the sitter "Derich Berck or Berg of Cologne"; repeats the transcription of the letter in Ganz [Ref. 1911]; believes the Steelyard portraits were "probably painted for presentation to the [Hanseatic] League of which they were leading members, to be hung on the walls of the Council Chamber of their Guildhall, rather than for the purpose of sending them to family relations abroad".
C. H. Collins Baker. Catalogue of the Petworth Collection of Pictures in the Possession of Lord Leconfield. London, 1920, pp. 57–58, no. 160, ill. opp. p. 57, as "Derich Berck, or Berg," and possibly the "Man's Portrait" exhibited at the British Institution in 1822.
Heinrich Averdunk and Walter Ring. Geschichte der Stadt Duisburg. Essen, 1927, p. 212, note that in London in 1536 Holbein painted the portrait of "Dirk Berk von der Oberstraße in Duisburg".
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill. [the date and inscription formerly in upper right have been removed], as "Dirk Berck of Cologne".
Esther Singleton. Old World Masters in New World Collections. New York, 1929, pp. 246–48, ill.
Wilhelm Stein. Holbein. Berlin, 1929, pp. 235–36, compares it with the Cyriacus Fallen [now Cyriacus Kale] portrait in Braunschweig [Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum] and finds both works close to the portraits of Clouet and his school.
August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Jules Bache in New-York." Pantheon 6 (December 1930), p. 542.
Royal Cortissoz. "The Jules S. Bache Collection." American Magazine of Art 21 (May 1930), p. 260.
Hans Tietze. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, p. 340, pl. 216 [English ed., "Masterpieces of European Painting in America," New York, 1939, p. 324, pl. 216], incorrectly lists it as in the Mellon collection, Washington.
Charles L. Kuhn. A Catalogue of German Paintings of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in American Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1936, p. 82, no. 367, pl. 76.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 30, ill.
Wilhelm Waetzoldt. Hans Holbein der Jüngere: Werk und Welt. Berlin, 1938, pp. 174–75, describes the sitter's expression as one of penetrating worldly wisdom; notes that Holbein used the motif of a curtain with a hanging cord in his 1527 portrait of Thomas More [Frick Collection, New York].
George Henry McCall. Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800: Masterpieces of Art. Ed. William R. Valentiner. Exh. cat., World's Fair. New York, 1939, pp. 95–96, no. 198, pl. 44.
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 220, ill.
Harry B. Wehle. "The Bache Collection on Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), p. 288, refers to it as a "somewhat stolid bourgeois" portrait.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 29, ill.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 217–18, ill., transcribe the inscription on the letter as "Dem Ersame und / fromen Derick berk i / London upt Stalhoff [?] / Besad de end"; translate the motto on the cartellino at left as "Someday it will be pleasant to remember," and attribute the phrase to Virgil, Aeneid I, line 203.
Heinrich Alfred Schmid. Hans Holbein der Jüngere: Sein Aufstieg zur Meisterschaft und sein englischer Stil. Vol. 1–2, Basel, 1948, vol. 2, pp. 367, 371.
Julius S. Held. "Book Reviews: Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta M. Salinger . . ., 1947." Art Bulletin 31 (June 1949), p. 140, suggests corrections to Wehle and Salinger's (1947) reading of the inscription, substituting "fromen" with "frum"; "i London" with "te Londen"; and "Stalhoff" with "Staalhoff"; also notes that the "o" of AN° is missing.
Walter Ring and Heinrich Averdunk. Geschichte der Stadt Duisburg. Ed. Walter Ring. 2nd ed. Ratingen, 1949, p. 192 [see Ref. Roden 1963], note that in 1536 Holbein painted a portrait of "Dirk Berk von der Oberstraße" in Duisburg.
Ulrich Christoffel. Hans Holbein d. J. Berlin, 1950, p. 40 [1924 ed., p. 96].
Paul Ganz. The Paintings of Hans Holbein. London, 1950, p. 246, no. 87, pl. 130.
Wilhelm Pinder. Vom Wesen und Werden Deutscher Formen: Geschichtliche Betrachtungen. Vol. 4, Holbein der Jüngere und das Ende der altdeutschen Kunst: Text und Tafeln. Cologne, 1951, p. 88, mentions it among Holbein's portraits of Hanseatic merchants.
J. A. Schmoll, gen. Eisenwerth. "Zum Todesbewusstsein in Holbeins Bildnissen." Annales Universitatis Saraviensis 1, no. 4 (1952), p. 366 n. 42, fig. 14, considers the letter's last lines, read by him as "besad dz end," a Vanitas motif; notes that Holbein's frontal portraits, including the present work, are reminiscent of Epitaph paintings.
Hans Werner Grohn. Hans Hollbein d. J. als Maler. Leipzig, 1955, p. 37.
Edward Mars Elmhirst. Merchants' Marks. Ed. Leslie Dow. London, 1959, p. 9, line 11, no. 98, ill., illustrates the merchant's mark as it appears on Berck's letter [the author identifies this as his mark based on its appearance in our portrait].
Hildegard Krummacher. "Zu Holbeins Bildnissen rheinischer Stahlhofkaufleute." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 25 (1963), pp. 181, 192, asserts that Derek Berck was from Cologne.
Günter von Roden. Letters to Claus Virch. January 18 and April 19, 1963, notes that the Bercks of Duisburg were a respected merchant family with ties to London, and asserts that no Berck connected with London is listed in the Cologne archives; adds that members of the Berck family served as mayor and jurors in Duisberg from the 14th century; remarks that in earlier times what is now called Rheinberg (the side of the Rhine northwest of Duisburg) was called "Berka," concluding that the family was "von Bercke" or from Rheinberg.
Hans Werner Grohn in L'opera pittorica completa di Holbein il Giovane. Milan, 1971, p. 104, no. 100, ill.
Günter v[on]. Roden. Geschicthe der Stadt Duisburg. Vol. 1, 3rd ed. Duisburg, 1975, pp. 156, 322, pl. 12.
St. John Gore. "Three Centuries of Discrimination." Apollo 105 (May 1977), pp. 352, 357 n. 10, tentatively identifies this portrait with the "Mans Picture done by Holben" listed in the 1671 inventory of the Northumberland collection.
Deborah Markow. "Hans Holbein's Steelyard Portraits, Reconsidered." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 40 (1978), pp. 40–41, 44, fig. 3, following Krummacher's [Ref. 1963] sees Holbein's Steelyard portraits—which she counts as seven, including the present work—as souvenirs sent home while the sitter was away in London, or as keepsakes should they die while abroad; in regard to our portrait, suggests that "besad dz end" [erroneous transcription offered in Ganz 1911] is "a plea for patience until the sitter's absence is ended," and believes the inscription from the Aeneid is "a sentimental reassurance to those left behind of Berck's eventual safe return"; remarks on the recurrence in these portraits of the parapet placed between sitter and viewer, noting that the device brings to mind epitaph portraits.
Thomas S. Holman. "Holbein's Portraits of the Steelyard Merchants: An Investigation." Metropolitan Museum Journal 14 (1979), pp. 139, 149–50, 158, figs. 10 and 18 (detail), notes that although Berck is thought to have been born in Duisburg, he may have become a citizen of Cologne; cites documents from February 12, 1543, and December 31, 1545, in which he is referred to as from that city.
John Rowlands. Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger. Oxford, 1985, p. 143, no. 57, pl. 94, believes the transfer from panel to canvas while the picture was with Duveen caused irreparable damage.
Kurt Löcher. "Der Londoner Stahlhof und Hans Holbein." Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland, 1150–1650. Ed. Cord Meckseper. Exh. cat.Stuttgart, 1985, vol. 3, pp. 675–79, fig. 14, rejects the notion that the Steelyard portraits were intended to be hung as a group in the merchants' Guildhall [see Ref. Chamberlain 1913, p. 4], noting that they differ in size, background, the absence of any reference to the Stahlhoff in some of the portraits, and the use of gold inscriptions in some but not in all cases; is inclined to believe the portraits were meant to be sent home to the sitters' families.
Introduction by James Snyder in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 16, 116, ill. (color).
Gisela Goldberg. Staatsgalerie Füssen. Munich, 1987, p. 63 (discussed under no. 39), identifies a painting in the Staatsgalerie Füssen—formerly in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich—as a copy, probably from the 19th century, after our portrait.
Mark Roskill and Craig Harbison. "On the Nature of Holbein's Portraits." Word & Image 3 (January–March 1987), p. 16, assume that the inscription from the Aeneid means that "one day you will have joy to remember [how the person was then]".
St. John Gore. "Old Masters at Petworth: The Background to the Inventories Recording the Acquisitions of the 10th Earl of Northumberland and of the 2nd Earl of Egremont." The Fashioning and Functioning of the British Country House. Ed. Gervase Jackson-Stops et al. Washington, 1989, pp. 124, 131 n. 8.
Maryan Ainsworth. "'Paternes for phiosioneamyes': Holbein's Portraiture Reconsidered." Burlington Magazine 132 (March 1990), p. 186, examines the underdrawing of three of Holbein's Steelyard portraits, the present work, Hermann Wedigh [MMA 50.135.4], and an unknown male portrait in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; finds in all three "a preliminary, quite cursive underdrawing, perhaps in black chalk, which simply indicates the contour of the head and features of the face," observing that none of them reveal the "schematic, traced underdrawing" typical of other Holbein portraits, in which a drawn study was essentially used as a cartoon for the painting.
Jeremy Wood. "Van Dyck and the Earl of Northumberland: Taste and Collecting in Stuart England." Van Dyck 350. Ed. Susan J. Barnes and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Washington, 1994, p. 322 n. 177, rejects Gore's [Ref. 1977] suggestion that this portrait could be the one listed in a 1671 inventory of the Northumberland collection, in his Appendix III, " a Mans Picture Done by Holben," noting that it does not fit Symonds's description of 1652 [see Refs.] in his Appendix I, " A Ritratto of an English Knight. by Holben. who sitts in a Chayre & a Table by him".
D. M. Klinger and Antje Höttler. Die Malerbrüder Ambrosius und Hans d. J. Holbein. Cheb, Czech Republic, 1998, p. 189, no. 60, ill.
Rainald Grosshans in Gemäldegalerie Berlin: 200 Meisterwerke. Ed. Gesine Asmus and Rainald Grosshans. Vol. 1, Berlin, 1998, p. 106.
Katrin Petter. "'Wenn du die Stimme hinzufügst, ist hier Derich selbst, . . .'." Belvedere no. 1 (2002), pp. 7, 9–10, 15–16, fig. 8 (color), sees the Latin motto as suggesting a Humanist education.
Meryle Secrest. Duveen: A Life in Art. New York, 2004, p. 449.
Susan Foister. Holbein and England. New Haven, 2004, pp. 36, 206, 210, 252, fig. 212, calls Berck a citizen of Cologne; finds the Steelyard portraits "different enough from each other for them not to have formed a coherent series," suggesting that the portraits "might have been sent home to serve as information on any changes in appearance and as reassurance to family members"; misreads and translates the inscription on the letter, following Ref. Ganz 1911, as "consider the end," and comments that "the explicit mingling of piety and personal memory expressed here, along with the use of Latin texts" is characteristic of Holbein's Hanseatic portraits.
Maryan W. Ainsworth in German Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1350–1600. New Haven, 2013, pp. 140–42, 302–3, no. 32, ill. (color) and figs. 119–20 (infrared reflectogram details).