Lot 102
  • 102

Jan Polack

bidding is closed


  • Jan Polack
  • The Annunciation
  • oil on pine panel, marouflaged, gold ground


With Malmadé & Geissendörfer, Cologne, from whom acquired by August Neuerburg (died 1944), Elbchaussee 77, Hamburg-Blankenese, in March 1924;
Thence by descent.


E. Buchner in U. Thieme and F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon...,  vol.XXVII, Leipzig 1933, p. 201 ('Hamburg, Privatbesitz: Verkündigung Mariä, um 1505'), as by Jan Polack, painted circa 1505;
Victor Bloch auction catalogue, Lucerne, 30 November 1934, under lot 50;
D. Jaffe, 'Rubens back and front.  The case of the National Gallery Samson and Delilah', in Apollo, August 2000, pp. 22 and 25, as by Polack. 


"The following condition report has been provided by Henry Gentle, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The original panel has been marouflaged on to a pine panel. There are splits visible to the paint surface, some of which are raised and unstable. There is a significant restored loss to the upper left area of the gold ground, above the Archangel, and upper right between the Madonna's throne and her desk. Under U-V light a scattering of restorations can be seen throughout the surface replacing minor paint losses. There are areas in good original condition and the removal of a discoloured varnish would improve the tonality. Offered in a gilt and painted frame with some chips."
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Polack treated this subject as the central panel of one of his altarpieces painted for the Schlosskapelle at Blutenberg near Munich in 1491/2.The present picture was also probably from a dismembered altarpiece.  According to Buchner, and more recently Ludwig Meyer, other panels of similar size from the same altarpiece include Polack's Adoration of the Kings formerly in the Victor Bloch collection, and a Nativity then at Schleißheim and still in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen.2  Meyer observes that the Virgin wears the clothing of the same pattern in the present picture and in the Nativity. She wears the same cloak in a further, very comparable, panel, also given to Polack, depicting the Adoration of the Magi, in Buffalo, St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral.

Polack clearly had a large workshop practice, and among his later works in particular it is hard to differentiate his own hand from those of his assistants.  Steiner and Grimm, for example, assign the multi-panelled high altar formerly in the Franciscan church of Saint Anthony in Munich to Polack's workshop, even though Polack himself must have had a considerable participation in it.3 

This lot is sold with the photostat certificate of Dr. Ernst Buchner dated Cologne, 6 April 1949, as a late work by Jan Polack, datable circa 1500-1510, the probable central panel of a Marian altarpiece.  We are grateful to Mr. Ludwig Meyer for endorsing the attribution to Polack on the basis of photographs.

August Neuerburg had a number of his panel paintings marouflaged in this distinctive way using blockboard 1.6 cm. thick, including the celebrated Rubens Samson and Delilah, now in the National Gallery London.4 

1. See P.B. Steiner & C. Grimm, Jan Polack, exhibition catalogue, Munich 2004, p. 151, no. II.3, reproduced pp. 162-3.
2.  His sale, Lucerne, Gilhofer & Ranschburg, 30 November 1934, lot 50.  Buchner's opinion was cited in the sale catalogue.  See also Jaffe, under literature, 2000, p. 25.  Ludwig Meyer's opinion was given recently in writing.
3.  Steiner, op. cit., p. 165 ff.
4.  Jaffe, op. cit., pp. 21-5.