Page 7 Possible Chronology
Here we pose scenarios that may explain why only two of the four versions have hat badges, namely the Scots and Phobus versions. We have concluded that the Albertina drawing is so different from the other versions that it must be regarded as an outlier.
The scenarios are based on there being two possible prime originals. The first scenario postulates that the prime original is a now missing drawing and the second that the prime original is an oil painting, probably the Scots version.
Scenario 1. A missing drawing is the prime original.
Durer was very interested in methods of accurate copying from life, as demonstrated by the woodcuts in his handbook on painting (Underweysung der Messung, 1525), discussed on our page 9 below. He is known to have invented his own copying machine in 1515. In his book the machine depicted for taking portraits is clearly foldable and portable. Despite Durer depicting an artist using the machine to take the portrait of Emperor Maximilian in his bedroom in Augsburg on 28th June 1518, it is questionable whether he would have taken it to the Imperial Diet in Augsburg or on his journey to the Netherlands, other than as a further demonstration of his genius. A simple version of the machine just requires a fixed viewpoint and a sheet of glass from which the dots (in the woodcut a pot of liquid is visible in front of the artist) were transferred to a sheet for pricking and pouncing to the prime original.
The artist may then have created a now missing charcoal portrait without the hat badge. The sitter might not have wanted to walk the streets with an exposed gold medallion or may not yet have acquired the hat badge. This version would have been an accurate depiction of the face including the facial wart and with the fur jacket and quilted sleeves outlined.
If Durer was the artist, it is worth noting that his original drawing for the Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I 1518 (Vienna; Albertina, Graphische Sammlung) depicts the Emperor's hat with a blank roundel for the badge. In the probable primary oil versions (Vienna,; Kunsthistorisches Museum and Nurnberg; Germanisches Nationalmuseum) the round blank badge is completed as an oval, depicting the Virgin and Child.
Our sitter may then have asked for a painted version of the drawing with his valued medallion added to the hat. The artist pounced the original drawing onto paper and then onto a panel. To do this the artist made pin holes through the original drawing and an intermediate transfer paper, as was usual for pounced copying of drawings, and then the artist pounced the intermediate paper onto a prepared panel. This panel may be the Scots version (Note. The original drawing for this process could not have been the Albertina drawing, because the Albertina drawing shows no trace of the pin holes or stylus indentation, which would have been required for transfer if this was done before the proposed mounting of the Albertina drawing onto a panel. A transfer by pin pouncing or stylus after mounting would have required removal of the drawing from the panel.)
It has been proposed that Durer, if he was the artist, might have taken the charcoal drawing back to Nuremburg to produce the required oil painting there, but Durer would probably have reverted to his usual Linden wood panels on his return and this explanation does not fit the known oak panel versions.
Scenario 2. An oil on panel is the prime original
If the prime original was an oil on panel, the artist outlined the portrait in charcoal on the panel using the pouncing as a guide. This outlining would the under-drawing seen in the Scots version. The artist wrote the fur note (see our page 6) The under-drawing includes a double oval outline of the medallion, which is visible in infrared reflectograph (see our page 2) under the overpainted background, above the hat and at the edge of the panel. It appears as if the artist was working out the correct angle at which the badge might sit on the hat.
The artist started the portrait including warts, fur and the quilted sleeves. The quilted sleeves are vaguely visible in IRR under the repaint covering the lower diagonal corners. The face in this version, presumably the Scots, is highly finished but the hair, fur, badge and quilted sleeves are left unfinished and the background is left as a biscuit ground.
The artist stopped working on the panel to let it dry, having made the fur note for later finishing by himself or another.
The sitter is later identified to Galle as Damaio and the print is made from the original drawing or the Scots panel
The print has all the features that we might expect in the drawing and which we see in the Scots panel, the wart, the eyebrow and the eyes, but these are missing or degraded in the Albertina and the Phoebus versions.
If either of these possible scenarios are correct, it would mean that Galle's 1587 print is taken from an original lost drawing or from the Scots version before the overpaint was added. The print has no badge, possibly because the engraver was unable to interpret it from the Scots version or it was missing on the drawing, but it has fur and quilted sleeves in the bottom corners.