Elsner (Ölßner, Ulßner)

painter, illuminator,

born Nürnberg, 1460

died Nürnberg, Jun 1517

A Sebald Elsner became a citizen in 1456 and paid an increased citizen's fee of 10 fl., thus possessing a fortune of over 500 fl. There is no evidence for the assumption expressed in the AKL that this was Jacob's father. Jacob described himself in 1513 in the Kress-Missale as a citizen of Nuremberg, a naturalisation is not documented, so he probably descended from parents who were Nuremberg citizens.

Between 1505 and 1509, Jacob Elsner is attested four times in Electoral Saxon sources for illuminating, writing and material costs in the service of Elector Frederick the Wise.


Only two works are signed by Elsner: the portrait of Jörg Ketzler (Kötzler) from 1499 and the so-called Kreß Missal from 1513, which he illuminated on behalf of Anton Kreß; both works are in the GNM. The miniatures for the "Gänsebuch" (Goose Book), a two-volume antiphonal also commissioned by Anton Kreß and completed before 1510, are also attributed to him; the script is by vicar Friedrich Rosendorn († 1507). The painting of the Harsdorf case of a gold balance (in the GNM) is also considered his work.

 Other attributions to Elsner are partly disputed. He was one of the most outstanding masters in the field of miniature painting. Johann Neudörfer reports that he played the lute and was a friend of Lorenz Stauber. He is said to have painted portraits of Stauber, Sebastian Imhoff and Wilhelm Haller, illuminated beautiful books for them and painted armorial letters. On 4.3.1513 he was mentioned together with Lorenz and Hans Elsner (probably his brothers) as debtors to the tinsmith Peter Zollner († 1505), whose widow had the outstanding debts collected.

The Elsnerstraße was named after him.



NÜRNBERG, Lorenzkirche: Epitaph of Georg Rayl (attributed), c. 1494.

MuS: MUNICH, BNM. NEW YORK, The Pierpont Morgan Library: Goose books.

NÜRNBERG, GNM; -, MStN: "Portrait of a Young Man", c. 1493.Lit.: AKL; Thieme-Becker; Doppelmayr, 1730; Murr, 1801; Neudörfer-Lochner, 1875, p. 139f.; Habicht, in: GNM M, 1917, pp. 59-64; Baumgartl, 1993; Ausst. Cat. Slg. Paulus Praun; Merkl, 1999, pp. 58-62; Stadtlexikon 2000. exhib.: 1906/2; 1971/3; 1928/2; 1971/3; 1986/7.

 (quoted from the Nuremberg Künstlerlexikon, edited by Manfred H. Grieb)




Style: Late Gothic

Period: 15th c., 16th c.

Works of art

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