PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR W.H. MINDER, SWITZERLAND
Heinrich Ferstel, Vienna;
H. Becker, Dortmund, by 1953, until after 1967;
With G. Cramer, The Hague, 1975/76.
This work depicts the Virgin and Child in the foreground of a panoramic landscape, with an inn, a village and a mountain range in the distance. Joseph can be seen in the left background. The Virgin lifts a grape cluster, a well-known motif alluding to the Eucharist, and the Child is standing on the Virgin's knee, holding a bird on his hand. The subject and general composition are similar to a number of typical works from the Master of Female Half-Lengths Group, such as the Virgin and Child in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg , the panels of The Flight into Egypt in the National Gallery, London  and in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania .
There is now a widespread scholarly consensus that the name 'Master of the Female Half Lengths' coined by Friedländer describes a workshop or group of painters, rather than a single hand. The name derives from a series of panels of fashionable young women in half-length, usually shown in wood-panelled interiors, either reading, writing or making music. The workshop also specialised in devotional paintings, particularly of the Virgin and Child and the Holy Family, and in distinctive landscape background to figural paintings. The name is also used to identify the distinctive hand who painted the landscape background found in several of the Master's pictures, including this one, and who also painted in their entirety pictures that are solely landscapes, with small scale figures by the same hand. Few dated works from the group survive, although on stylistic grounds we can date its activity to the second quarter of the 16th Century, and place it probably in Antwerp.
Dr W.H. Minder (born 1921) started collecting in the early 1950s. During the years the Swiss-born Minder was active as a pathologist in The Hague (1947-1982), he became interested in a wide variety of art, ranging from clocks, carpets, furniture and porcelain to 17th and 19th Century paintings. A great part of his collection was bought at auction houses and art galleries in The Hague and Amsterdam.
For an old photograph of the interior of the room where the picture was hanging in the villa of Heinrich Ferstel, see Fig. 1.
 M.J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. XII, Leyden/Brussels 1975, p. 97, no. 65, reproduced plate 37;
 op. cit., p. 97, no. 74, reproduced plate 39;
 op. cit., p. 98, no. 78, reproduced plate 40.
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