150

THE PROPERTY OF THE HEIRS OF OTTMAR STRAUSS

School of Cologne, circa 1450
THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI
Estimation
50 00080 000
Lot. Vendu 50,000 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
150

THE PROPERTY OF THE HEIRS OF OTTMAR STRAUSS

School of Cologne, circa 1450
THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI
Estimation
50 00080 000
Lot. Vendu 50,000 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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School of Cologne, circa 1450
THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI

Provenance

Friedrich Lippmann (1838–1903), Berlin;
His estate sale, Berlin, Lepke, 26 and 27 November 1912, lot 51 (as the Master of the Heisterbach Altarpiece);
Ottmar Strauss (1878–1941);
Dr. Friedrich Thyssen (1873–1951), from whom confiscated in 1939;
A Municipal Museum, Germany;
Restituted to Dr. Friedrich Thyssen in 1950;
By whom donated to a Municipal Museum, Germany, 1951;
Restituted to the heirs of Ottmar Strauss, 2015.

Exposition

Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Stefan Lochner: Meister zu Köln, 3 December 1993 – 27 February 1994. 

Bibliographie

M.J. Friedländer, in the introduction to Sammlung Friedrich Lippmann (to the Lippmann sale catalogue), Berlin 1912, pp. 8–9 (as attributed to Master of the Heisterbacher Altar);
F. Rademacher, 'Eine Schekung von Dr. Fritz Thyssen an das Bonner Landesmuseum', in Kunstchronik, no. 5, July 1952, pp. 167 and 182, reproduced fig.7 (as follower of Stefan Lochner);
F. Rademacher, Verzeichnis, 1958, p. 28 (as circle of the Master of the Heisterbach Altarpiece);
A. Stange, Kritisches Verzeichnis, vol. I, 1967, pp. 47–48, cat. no. 110d (as the Master of the Heisterbach Altarpiece);
G. Goldberg and G. Scheffler, Altdeutsche Gemälde, Köln und Westdeutschland, Gemäldekat. XIV der Alten Pinakothek München, Munich 1972, p. 148;
I. Krueger in Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn: Gemälde bis 1900, Bonn 1982, pp. 260–61, reproduced;
F.G. Zehnder, Katalog der Altkölner Malerei, Cologne 1990, p. 459;
D.R. Taübe in Stefan Lochner: Meister zu Köln, exhibition catalogue, Cologne 1993, pp. 348–49, cat. no. 56a, reproduced;
J. Chapuis, Stefan Lochner: Image Making in Fifteenth-Century Cologne, Turnhout 2004, pp. 253–55, reproduced fig. 214.

Description

This Adoration of the Magi was once part of a large triptych from which thirteen other panels have survived, showing various episodes from the early Life of Christ, the Passion and the Life of the Virgin. These are now dispersed amongst the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, the Wiesbaden Museum, Dresden, the Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, and the Kisters collection in Kreuzlingen, as well as other private collections.1 Originally the triptych was composed of twelve outer panels depicting the apostles and sixteen inner panels, showing the aforementioned scenes.2

After initially being linked to Stefan Lochner, Stange attributed the triptych to the Master of the Heisterbach Altarpiece, an artist working in mid-fifteenth-century Cologne who owes his name to the monumental polyptych made for the Cistercian abbey of Heisterbach, near Bonn. The Master bears such an affinity to Lochner's paintings in terms of compositional motifs, physiognomies and treatment of light, that early critics believed the altarpiece to be by a young Lochner. More recently, however, Goldberg and Scheffler removed the panels from the corpus of the Heisterbach Master, whose figures are more elongated and whose compositions are more spacious and sensitive to depth. Subsequent authors have agreed with this assessment, preferring to designate our artist as an anonymous Cologne painter active around 1450. Writing most recently, Chapuis characterised this anonymous artist as belonging, like the Heisterbach Master, to a group of mid-century painters who combined Lochner's inventions with the Weich Stil, or soft style, traditionally associated with the Veronica and Lawrence Masters of the previous generation. Certain elements in the present work look to be directly derived from their counterparts in Lochner's Dombild Altarpiece in the Cathedral of Cologne, such as the profile of the kneeling magi and the gifts. The Virgin's face, by contrast, is closer to that of the Veronica Master's Virgin with the Flowering Pea, in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.3

Friedrich Lippmann was Director of the Königliches Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin in the late nineteenth century, and oversaw the print room during a period of spectacular growth. He was a collector of early pictures and sculpture of the German, Netherlandish and Italian schools.

1. For a full list of the known panels and their whereabouts, see Zehnder 1990, p. 459. M.J. Friedländer connected the present panel with the others from the same altarpiece in 1912 (see Literature).

2. D.R. Taübe 1993, p. 348.

3. Inv. no. 11 866. See Zehnder 1990, p. 316–23, reproduced fig. 206.

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