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Čís. položky 14


South German School, circa 1490


Christ on the Mount of Olives;
Christ Carrying the Cross;
The Crucifixion;
The Lamentation,
four wings of an altarpiece,
oil on panel, 201 x 88.5 cm, 191 x 81 cm, 191 x 80.5 cm, 202.5 x 89 cm, framed, a set of four (4)

Provenance:
possibly collection of the Princes of Dietrichstein, Nikolsburg/Mikulov, Czechoslovakia, until the 1930’s;
Private collection, England, before 1957;
Private collection, Germany, since 1957

Literature:
A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, vol. IX, Munich 1958, p. 117, figs. 246a and b, pls. 2 and 3 (as Master of the Crailsheim High Altar);A. Stange, Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer, vol. III, ed. by N. Lieb, Munich 1978, p. 132, no. 328 (as Master of the Crailsheim High Altar);R. Müller, Der Hochaltar der Johanneskirche in Crailsheim. Ein Flügelretabel aus der Werkstatt des Michael Wolgemut in Nürnberg, in: Beiträge zur fränkischen Kunstgeschichte 4 (2000), pp. 96 and 108, note 86 (as Workshop of Michael Wolgemut, Nuremberg)

The present four panels which depict scenes from the Passion of Christ, are artistically ambitious works of superior quality. The subject of art-historical discussion, they have been attributed variously to leading South German workshops in either Ulm, Nuremberg or Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Executed at the end of the fifteenth century, the Master of the Crailsheim Altar (active circa 1490–1500), Michael Wolgemut (1434–1519), and Hans Schüchlin (circa 1440–1505) have each been suggested as overseeing the creation of these exquisite works.

Pictorial programme and original arrangement of the altar

These four panels depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ originally formed part of a winged altarpiece. They show a chronological sequence of events:

(1) Christ on the Mount of Olives
(2) Christ Carrying the Cross
(3) The Crucifixion
(4) The Lamentation

The varying dimensions of the four panels are accounted for by their former position within the retable above and behind the altar for which they were intended (and which is no longer extant). The two larger panels (1 and 4) probably served as side wings, running the length of what was either a central panel or carved wooden relief whereas the two smaller panels (2 and 3) seem to have served as the outer or upper sides of the wings for the shrine or central panel, so that in its closed state the altar would have shown the principal stations of the Passion in a chronological sequence. Examples for such comprehensive pictorial programmes, comprising of side and shrine wings, can frequently be found in Franconian painting (see for example the Peringsdorf Altarpiece of 1486 from the Wolgemut workshop and the Kalchreut Altarpiece, circa 1498).

Discussion of the attribution of the four panels

In terms of both composition and painting technique the present four panels comply with the highest standards of the outstanding workshops of Southern Germany at the end of the fifteenth century. These monumental panels, featuring a frieze of broad-leafed Gothic tendrils at the top, exhibit fresh and powerfully drawn outlines. The figure constellations in the individual scenes are in line with the late medieval pictorial tradition, but are ‘remarkably freely and clearly composed’ (A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, vol. IX, Munich 1958, p. 117), so that the emotional and theological content of the scenes is impressively conveyed to the spectator. It is thus not surprising that art historical scholarship has attempted, for more than half a century, to delineate the regional origins of the four panels and attribute them to one of the renowned South German workshops.

Alfred Stange’s association of the present four panels with the workshop of the Master of the Crailsheim Altar

Alfred Stange (1890–1968), and the later editors of his catalogue raisonné of Dürer’s German panel paintings, group the present four panels together with the oeuvre of an artist identified as the Master of the Crailsheim Altar. This master’s workshop was likely located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This master’s was likely operated his studio in in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. His style combines both Swabian and Franconian elements and was also strongly influenced by the example of the Master of the Housebook. Stange discerned a clear difference between the style of the Master of the Crailsheim Altar and that of the contemporary pictorial tradition of Nuremberg, and its most influential exponent, Michael Wolgemut.

Was the high altar in Crailsheim’s Johanneskirche in fact executed by the workshop Michael Wolgemut?

The authorship of the Crailsheim altar itself is still an open question. The existence of the Rothenburg Master of the Crailsheim Altar suggested by Alfred Stange has been cast into doubt by more recent research. The most plausible hypothesis is that of ascribing the Crailsheim altar to the Nuremberg workshop of Michael Wolgemut – a theory in opposition to Stange’s opinion. Among those in favour of the Crailsheim altar’s Nuremberg origins is Rebecca Müller (see R. Müller, Der Hochaltar der Johanneskirche in Crailsheim. Ein Flügelretabel aus der Werkstatt des Michael Wolgemut in Nürnberg, in: Beiträge zur fränkischen Kunstgeschichte 4, 2000, pp. 76-110, p. 96 and 108, note 86). According to Müller, however, the present four panels discussed by her as within Wolgemut’s workshop practice are by no means by the same hand as the Crailsheim altar, which she also characterises as from Wolgemut’s workshop and which supports by stylistic comparison. The proportions of the figures in the present four panels, she maintains, are much slenderer, and have been arranged differently within the picture space. With regards to motifs, the Crailsheim altar and the current four panels do not present similarities.

Or was the Ulm-based master Hans Schüchlin the creator of the present works?

An alternative attribution was made by Bernd Konrad (his written certificate of January 2016, as ‘Circle of the Master of the Blaubeuren Crucifixion [Workshop of Hans Schüchlin]’ accompanies the present lot). Konrad concurs with Alfred Stange that the present four works do not fall within the tradition of Nuremberg panel painting around 1500. He notes particularly the landscape backgrounds, which appear to be considerably softer and more atmospheric, in contrast to the harsh, graphic, and powerfully coloured landscapes of the Nuremberg painting school, which exhbit Dürer’s influence. Such atmospheric landscapes, on the other hand, are in Konrad’s opinion, characteristic features of contemporary Ulm painting. The leading Ulm workshop was run by Hans Schüchlin at the time – and indeed Bernd Konrad has identified a particular phenomenon in the present panels which he considers highly typical of later works originating from Schüchlin’s workshop. The rendering of the faces, the eyes, and particularly those of the weeping figures, have the form of half-moons and are pulled downwards, which are characteristic of Schüchlin‘s models. On the basis of these stylistic resemblances Konrad established the hypothesis that these four panel paintings were executed in the workshop of Hans Schüchlin in Ulm around 1500.

The connection between Hans Schüchlin and Michael Wolgemut

Bernd Konrad explicitly emphasises the contrast between the Nuremberg and Ulm painting schools. By the very example of Hans Schüchlin, however, one can also see the close connection between these two traditions. Recent scholars assume that Schüchlin, ‘in his early phase in the 1460s, was an assistant to Hans Pleydenwurff (in whose studio Wolgemut is also thought to have worked) in Nuremberg’ (see M. Teget-Welz, Bartholomäus Zeitblom, Jörg Stocker und die Ulmer Kunstproduktion um 1500, in: Jerusalem in Ulm, exhibition catalogue, Ulm 2015, pp. 11–12). Thus, Hans Schüchlin, inspite of revisiting and developing features of the existing Ulm artistic tradition, equally betrays in his oeuvre certain stylistic influences from his formation with Pleydenwurff, and within Michael Wolgemut’s wider circle in Nuremberg.

Conclusion

The stylistic similarities and contrasts discussed reveal the close exchange among workshops in Southern Germany at the turn of the sixteenth century. Scholars have, and continue to identify, regional characteristics which define the painting styles of Swabia, Main-Franconia, and Nuremberg, yet the constant switching back and forth of assistants that was so typical of early modern guild regulations and journeymanship inevitably led to a transfer of stylistic features and methods of technique. This, in turn, fired the creativity and innovative spirit of masters, some of whom had travelled far themselves. These artistic peregrinations make it hard to securely assign both the present and several other significant panels to particular workshops within narrowly defined geographic regions on purely stylistic grounds.

The case of the present four panels is an eloquent example of this problem. That it has not, as far as current scholarship has progressed, been possible to definitively attribute these works is not a sign of inadequacy but rather illustrates the complex fusion of stylistic influences which here combine to form a felicitous whole. The over half a century long debate as to the origins of these four panels also provides insights into the fascinating process of identification and categorisation in art historical research. These four works, while arresting in their biblical drama and artistic narrative, harbour within them the potential for further study and significant discovery.

Technical analysis by Gianluca Poldi

The support is of vertical boards of coniferous wood, perhaps larch, covered on the recto with a white ground, as we can see behind the Christ in the scene of the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, where the painter neglected to complete the fence with colour. In this small unpainted area, we can see also the underdrawing with the naked eye: made with a carbon-based black ink, quite pale here, and applied with a thin brush. The same drawing can be clearly visualised by IR reflectography almost everywhere: it is fluid and free, detailed, and very impressive in the construction of the shadows with hatched and crossed lines, showing great self-assurance. A first trace outlines the borders and the structure of the clothes, where characteristic bent and rounded hooks can be noticed at the end of the lines of the folds.

The changes between the drawing and the painting are very few, confirming the impression that this is an artist of both great speed and skill.

As many non-invasive spectroscopic analyses carried out could detect, the palette includes azurite in all the blue colours as well as in the green colours, here mixed with lead tin yellow to obtain the peculiar tone of the hills and meadows, while verdigris was used in the deeper greens. Lead-tin yellow was also used alone, or mixed with lead white, in some yellow clothes such as the figure of Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Brighter reds are obtained with vermillion, while other red clothes are made with a red madder type lake – as Reflectance Spectrometry absorption bands at 510 and 550 nm state – and not with a coccid-based one like kermes or cochineal. All the flesh tones are mixtures of lead white with some amounts of vermillion, with additions of iron oxides (brown ochre) to obtain the shadows. Ocre and earths are widely employed in the rocks, the crosses and the trees.

Expert: Dr. Alexander Strasoldo Dr. Alexander Strasoldo
+43-1-515 60-556

alexander.strasoldo@dorotheum.at

09.06.2020 - 16:00

Dosažená cena: **
EUR 815.800,-
Odhadní cena:
EUR 500.000,- do EUR 600.000,-

South German School, circa 1490


Christ on the Mount of Olives;
Christ Carrying the Cross;
The Crucifixion;
The Lamentation,
four wings of an altarpiece,
oil on panel, 201 x 88.5 cm, 191 x 81 cm, 191 x 80.5 cm, 202.5 x 89 cm, framed, a set of four (4)

Provenance:
possibly collection of the Princes of Dietrichstein, Nikolsburg/Mikulov, Czechoslovakia, until the 1930’s;
Private collection, England, before 1957;
Private collection, Germany, since 1957

Literature:
A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, vol. IX, Munich 1958, p. 117, figs. 246a and b, pls. 2 and 3 (as Master of the Crailsheim High Altar);A. Stange, Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer, vol. III, ed. by N. Lieb, Munich 1978, p. 132, no. 328 (as Master of the Crailsheim High Altar);R. Müller, Der Hochaltar der Johanneskirche in Crailsheim. Ein Flügelretabel aus der Werkstatt des Michael Wolgemut in Nürnberg, in: Beiträge zur fränkischen Kunstgeschichte 4 (2000), pp. 96 and 108, note 86 (as Workshop of Michael Wolgemut, Nuremberg)

The present four panels which depict scenes from the Passion of Christ, are artistically ambitious works of superior quality. The subject of art-historical discussion, they have been attributed variously to leading South German workshops in either Ulm, Nuremberg or Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Executed at the end of the fifteenth century, the Master of the Crailsheim Altar (active circa 1490–1500), Michael Wolgemut (1434–1519), and Hans Schüchlin (circa 1440–1505) have each been suggested as overseeing the creation of these exquisite works.

Pictorial programme and original arrangement of the altar

These four panels depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ originally formed part of a winged altarpiece. They show a chronological sequence of events:

(1) Christ on the Mount of Olives
(2) Christ Carrying the Cross
(3) The Crucifixion
(4) The Lamentation

The varying dimensions of the four panels are accounted for by their former position within the retable above and behind the altar for which they were intended (and which is no longer extant). The two larger panels (1 and 4) probably served as side wings, running the length of what was either a central panel or carved wooden relief whereas the two smaller panels (2 and 3) seem to have served as the outer or upper sides of the wings for the shrine or central panel, so that in its closed state the altar would have shown the principal stations of the Passion in a chronological sequence. Examples for such comprehensive pictorial programmes, comprising of side and shrine wings, can frequently be found in Franconian painting (see for example the Peringsdorf Altarpiece of 1486 from the Wolgemut workshop and the Kalchreut Altarpiece, circa 1498).

Discussion of the attribution of the four panels

In terms of both composition and painting technique the present four panels comply with the highest standards of the outstanding workshops of Southern Germany at the end of the fifteenth century. These monumental panels, featuring a frieze of broad-leafed Gothic tendrils at the top, exhibit fresh and powerfully drawn outlines. The figure constellations in the individual scenes are in line with the late medieval pictorial tradition, but are ‘remarkably freely and clearly composed’ (A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, vol. IX, Munich 1958, p. 117), so that the emotional and theological content of the scenes is impressively conveyed to the spectator. It is thus not surprising that art historical scholarship has attempted, for more than half a century, to delineate the regional origins of the four panels and attribute them to one of the renowned South German workshops.

Alfred Stange’s association of the present four panels with the workshop of the Master of the Crailsheim Altar

Alfred Stange (1890–1968), and the later editors of his catalogue raisonné of Dürer’s German panel paintings, group the present four panels together with the oeuvre of an artist identified as the Master of the Crailsheim Altar. This master’s workshop was likely located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This master’s was likely operated his studio in in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. His style combines both Swabian and Franconian elements and was also strongly influenced by the example of the Master of the Housebook. Stange discerned a clear difference between the style of the Master of the Crailsheim Altar and that of the contemporary pictorial tradition of Nuremberg, and its most influential exponent, Michael Wolgemut.

Was the high altar in Crailsheim’s Johanneskirche in fact executed by the workshop Michael Wolgemut?

The authorship of the Crailsheim altar itself is still an open question. The existence of the Rothenburg Master of the Crailsheim Altar suggested by Alfred Stange has been cast into doubt by more recent research. The most plausible hypothesis is that of ascribing the Crailsheim altar to the Nuremberg workshop of Michael Wolgemut – a theory in opposition to Stange’s opinion. Among those in favour of the Crailsheim altar’s Nuremberg origins is Rebecca Müller (see R. Müller, Der Hochaltar der Johanneskirche in Crailsheim. Ein Flügelretabel aus der Werkstatt des Michael Wolgemut in Nürnberg, in: Beiträge zur fränkischen Kunstgeschichte 4, 2000, pp. 76-110, p. 96 and 108, note 86). According to Müller, however, the present four panels discussed by her as within Wolgemut’s workshop practice are by no means by the same hand as the Crailsheim altar, which she also characterises as from Wolgemut’s workshop and which supports by stylistic comparison. The proportions of the figures in the present four panels, she maintains, are much slenderer, and have been arranged differently within the picture space. With regards to motifs, the Crailsheim altar and the current four panels do not present similarities.

Or was the Ulm-based master Hans Schüchlin the creator of the present works?

An alternative attribution was made by Bernd Konrad (his written certificate of January 2016, as ‘Circle of the Master of the Blaubeuren Crucifixion [Workshop of Hans Schüchlin]’ accompanies the present lot). Konrad concurs with Alfred Stange that the present four works do not fall within the tradition of Nuremberg panel painting around 1500. He notes particularly the landscape backgrounds, which appear to be considerably softer and more atmospheric, in contrast to the harsh, graphic, and powerfully coloured landscapes of the Nuremberg painting school, which exhbit Dürer’s influence. Such atmospheric landscapes, on the other hand, are in Konrad’s opinion, characteristic features of contemporary Ulm painting. The leading Ulm workshop was run by Hans Schüchlin at the time – and indeed Bernd Konrad has identified a particular phenomenon in the present panels which he considers highly typical of later works originating from Schüchlin’s workshop. The rendering of the faces, the eyes, and particularly those of the weeping figures, have the form of half-moons and are pulled downwards, which are characteristic of Schüchlin‘s models. On the basis of these stylistic resemblances Konrad established the hypothesis that these four panel paintings were executed in the workshop of Hans Schüchlin in Ulm around 1500.

The connection between Hans Schüchlin and Michael Wolgemut

Bernd Konrad explicitly emphasises the contrast between the Nuremberg and Ulm painting schools. By the very example of Hans Schüchlin, however, one can also see the close connection between these two traditions. Recent scholars assume that Schüchlin, ‘in his early phase in the 1460s, was an assistant to Hans Pleydenwurff (in whose studio Wolgemut is also thought to have worked) in Nuremberg’ (see M. Teget-Welz, Bartholomäus Zeitblom, Jörg Stocker und die Ulmer Kunstproduktion um 1500, in: Jerusalem in Ulm, exhibition catalogue, Ulm 2015, pp. 11–12). Thus, Hans Schüchlin, inspite of revisiting and developing features of the existing Ulm artistic tradition, equally betrays in his oeuvre certain stylistic influences from his formation with Pleydenwurff, and within Michael Wolgemut’s wider circle in Nuremberg.

Conclusion

The stylistic similarities and contrasts discussed reveal the close exchange among workshops in Southern Germany at the turn of the sixteenth century. Scholars have, and continue to identify, regional characteristics which define the painting styles of Swabia, Main-Franconia, and Nuremberg, yet the constant switching back and forth of assistants that was so typical of early modern guild regulations and journeymanship inevitably led to a transfer of stylistic features and methods of technique. This, in turn, fired the creativity and innovative spirit of masters, some of whom had travelled far themselves. These artistic peregrinations make it hard to securely assign both the present and several other significant panels to particular workshops within narrowly defined geographic regions on purely stylistic grounds.

The case of the present four panels is an eloquent example of this problem. That it has not, as far as current scholarship has progressed, been possible to definitively attribute these works is not a sign of inadequacy but rather illustrates the complex fusion of stylistic influences which here combine to form a felicitous whole. The over half a century long debate as to the origins of these four panels also provides insights into the fascinating process of identification and categorisation in art historical research. These four works, while arresting in their biblical drama and artistic narrative, harbour within them the potential for further study and significant discovery.

Technical analysis by Gianluca Poldi

The support is of vertical boards of coniferous wood, perhaps larch, covered on the recto with a white ground, as we can see behind the Christ in the scene of the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, where the painter neglected to complete the fence with colour. In this small unpainted area, we can see also the underdrawing with the naked eye: made with a carbon-based black ink, quite pale here, and applied with a thin brush. The same drawing can be clearly visualised by IR reflectography almost everywhere: it is fluid and free, detailed, and very impressive in the construction of the shadows with hatched and crossed lines, showing great self-assurance. A first trace outlines the borders and the structure of the clothes, where characteristic bent and rounded hooks can be noticed at the end of the lines of the folds.

The changes between the drawing and the painting are very few, confirming the impression that this is an artist of both great speed and skill.

As many non-invasive spectroscopic analyses carried out could detect, the palette includes azurite in all the blue colours as well as in the green colours, here mixed with lead tin yellow to obtain the peculiar tone of the hills and meadows, while verdigris was used in the deeper greens. Lead-tin yellow was also used alone, or mixed with lead white, in some yellow clothes such as the figure of Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Brighter reds are obtained with vermillion, while other red clothes are made with a red madder type lake – as Reflectance Spectrometry absorption bands at 510 and 550 nm state – and not with a coccid-based one like kermes or cochineal. All the flesh tones are mixtures of lead white with some amounts of vermillion, with additions of iron oxides (brown ochre) to obtain the shadows. Ocre and earths are widely employed in the rocks, the crosses and the trees.

Expert: Dr. Alexander Strasoldo Dr. Alexander Strasoldo
+43-1-515 60-556

alexander.strasoldo@dorotheum.at


Horká linka kupujících Po-Pá: 9.00 - 18.00
old.masters@dorotheum.at

+43 1 515 60 403
Aukce: Obrazy starých mistrů
Datum: 09.06.2020 - 16:00
Místo konání aukce: Vídeň | Palais Dorotheum
Prohlídka: 02.06. - 09.06.2020


** Kupní cena vč. poplatku kupujícího a DPH

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