Retberg was the son of an artillery captain and grew up in different places in Europe. He passed his own lieutenant exam in 1829. He continued to travel in Germany as well as Europe and developed a keen interest in art. After his father’s death, he resigned from the military and, in 1846, settled in Munich where he began writing art historical books. In 1854 he published Nürnbergs Kunstleben in seinen Denkmalen. The work of Albrecht Dürer became a focus of his studies and he also assembled an impressive collection of the artist’s graphic oeuvre which, after his death, was sold at auction at Amsler & Ruthardt in Berlin in 1886. In 1871 Retberg published a catalogue of Dürer’s prints (Dürers Kupferstiche und Holzschnitte).
He also created ca. 30 lithographic facsimiles of Dürer’s more rare woodcuts which he distributed among friends and collectors. In 1884, toward the end of his life, he completed another study on Dürer which remained unpublished.
The present lithograph is closely connected with Retberg’s art historical work. The impression is dedicated by Retberg to the collection of the Princes Waldburg-Wolfegg in Wolfegg. One of the treasures of this collection since the seventeenth century and until its sale in 2008 was the Medieval Housebook of the eponymous Master of the Housebook of which Retberg was the first to published a detailed description in 1866.