Georg Loesser and Nuremberg’s House of Twelve Brothers

When it’s Saturday morning, you’re still groggy, and your coffee-loving girlfriend says she’s out of her caffeinated bean juice.

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This 1605 portrait depicts Georg Loesser, a stone cutter living at the Twelfbrüderstiftung (“House of Twelve Brothers”), a house of charity in Nuremberg founded to house up to twelve artisans who had fallen on hard times and/or were otherwise unable to sustain themselves fully with their craft.

Inspired by an earlier house founded by a late fourteenth century merchant named Konrad Mendel (whose name would become an appellation of the men living at the house: the “Mendel brothers”), the early modern iteration of the House of Twelve Brothers was founded by a pair of wealthy merchants, Matthäus Landauer and Erasmus Schiltkrot, in 1501.

This version of the house would last until 1806.

From its late medieval origins to its modern closure, the “brothers” of the house kept meticulous records of the house’s history, finances, and lodgers – including over a thousand portraits of the craftsmen who called it home.

Georg Loesser here was admitted to the house at age 46 (taking the place of a shoemaker named Hans Jamnitzer). He would stay at the House of Twelve Brothers for over thirty years until his death.

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