Katerina's Windows
Donation and Devotion, Art and Music
as Heard and Seen Through the Writings of a Birgittine Nun

Paulus Imhoff, Katerina's Father


Documents provide evidence that Katerina’s father had commissioned a liturgical vestment. An inventory for the Nuremberg church of St. Lorenz, compiled in 1466, shows that Paulus Imhoff had donated a chasuble adorned with an image of the Virgin The sacristan’s manual set down in 1493 prescribes this brown velvet chasuble for use during the celebration of the early Mass every Easter.

Sources: Nuremberg, Staatsarchiv, Rep. 44e, Reichsstadt Nürnberg, Losungamt, Akten S I Lade 130, 7, fol. 7v; Nuremberg, Staatsarchiv, Reichsstadt Nürnberg, D-Laden, Akt no. 248; Albert Gümbel, Das Mesnerpflichtbuch von St. Lorenz in Nürnberg vom Jahre 1493 (Munich, 1928), 21-22.

Grave and Epitaph in Italy

By associating archival references, old bibliography, and recent information available on the internet in 2009, we were able to locate the epitaph and probable place at which Paulus Imhoff died. According to the 1479 entry in the Imhoff company account book, Katerina’s mother received 57 guilders and 16 pounds for a grave (grebnus) and a trip to Rome (Katerina’s Windows, p. 17). In 1887 Henry Simonsfeld published a study on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi and the commercial ties between Germany and Venice, for which he collected inscriptions from the graves of Germans buried in Venice and the Veneto. For a location “on the village church of Santa Croce near Serravalle on the road to Cadore” he gives the following transcription: “Paulus Imhoff patritius / Norimbergi. Quod estis / fui. Et quod sum eritis / Migravi die VII men / sis Julii MCCCCLXVIII.” This Latin text, speaking in the first person and addressing the viewer, employs the topos familiar to art historians as the speech of the skeleton in Masaccio’s Trinity fresco in Florence: "I was what you are, and what I am you shall be." In 1905, one, Freiherr von Guttenberg of Würzburg, asked for information about Paulus Imhoff in a periodical on genealogy and heraldry, but apparently received no response – due undoubtedly to a lack of interest and information on Paulus Imhoff. According to the Web sites of the Province of Belluno and of the municipality of Farra d´Alpago, a marble epitaph for a certain patrician Paulus Imhoff of Nuremberg is located in a church in Santa Croce del Lago rebuilt in the nineteenth century after an earthquake destroyed the previous building. These sources place his death and burial much closer to the Nuremberg merchant headquarters in Venice than we had previously supposed. The records also confirm that Paulus Imhoff was not interred in the family crypt in the church of St. Sebald in Nuremberg, and this evidence further demonstrates that the memorial plaques in Nuremberg churches, such as that for Paulus, did not necessarily function as grave markers for the persons memorialized as has been recently asserted (Weilandt, 2007, p. 255).

Sources: Henry Simonsfeld, Der Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venedig und die deutsch-venetianischen Handels-beziehungen: Eine historische Skizze (Stuttgart, 1887), 245; (Freiherr) von Guttenberg, query in Heraldisch-genealogische Blätter für adelige und bürgerliche Geschlechter 2 (1905): 48; Provincia di Belluno; last accessed 10 July 2009; Farra d'Alpago, last accessed 10 July 2009; Gerhard Weilandt, Die Sebalduskirche in Nürnberg (Petersberg, 2007), 255.

© 2009 by Corine Schleif and Volker Schier