Lot 3
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Attributed to Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend
  • A Triptych illustrating Scenes from the Life of Saint James the Greater

  • oil on panel


  • central panel: 70 by 79 cm.; 27 1/2 by 31 in. wings (each): 70 by 33 cm.; 27 1/2 by 13 in.


By tradition acquired by Don Gonzalo de Ulloa y Ortega Montañés, Conde de Adanero;
Thence by descent.


J. Lavalleye, Les Primitifs Flamands, Repertoire des Peintures Flamandes des Quinzième et Seizième Siècles, Collections d'Espagne, Antwerp 1958, vol. II, p. 37, no. 90, reproduced plate XXV (as by an anonymous Flemish master).

Catalogue Note

This interesting triptych appears to be by the same hand as a polyptych of twelve panels, also representing scenes from the life of Saint James the Greater, today in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in which the same compositions recur, although the central panel in the present work is there divided into two sections.

The Indianapolis polyptych has in the past been associated with the so-called Master of the Legend of Saint Godelieve, so named after his eponymous altarpiece illustrating scenes from the life of Saint Godelieve, today in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.1 Dr. Ronda Kasl, curator of paintings from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, who was first to make the tentative link between the Indianapolis polyptych and the master's eponymous work in New York, now considers the artist responsible for both the present lot and the Indianapolis polyptych to be a separate artistic personality from the Master of the Legend of Saint Godelieve, an artist to whom, nonetheless, his style is extremely close.

Strangely, the narrative here seems to begin in the right wing rather than the left, with the young St. James casting away his worldly possessions. The left hand wing depicts the Miracle of the fowls; a young woman plants a silver goblet in the bag of a handsome young pilgrim as he sleeps (upper right) who had shunned her advances. The girl caused the cup to be found (principal scene) and the pilgrim was tried and hung. When, as his parents passed by, his 'dead' body spoke, bidding them good cheer for St James was at his side, they ran to the judge who happened to be sitting at table and who said to them: "He is no more alive than these fowls on my dish." At which point the birds sprang up and began to crow and the young man was restored to his parents. The narrative continues into the central panel where Hermogenes, a magician, is shown throwing away his books after his conversion by St. James. Immediately above, St. James gives his staff to Philetus to ward off the demons that hound him in the scenes immediately to the left; moving right St. James is shown preaching, probably in Judea, before his arrest and subsequent trial by Herod Agrippa (principal scene).

A note on the Provenance:
This triptych is said to have remained in the same family collection for over two hundred years and has descended to the present owners ultimately from Don Gonzalo de Ulloa y Ortega Montañés, Conde de Adanero, who built one of the most important art collections in Spain during the 18th century. The collection, based in Cordoba, incorporated a large collection of miniatures, Sèvres porcelain and important Old Masters by Velázquez, Goya, El Greco and Zurbarán amongst many others. The collection is today largely dispersed amongst the various houses of the Adanero descendants.

1. See M. Ainsworth, K. Christiansen (eds.), From Van Eyck to Bruegel, Early Netherlandish Painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum, exhibition catalogue, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 22 September 1998 - 3 January 1999, pp. 125-28, reproduced.