Lot 9
  • 9

Attributed to Hans Memling

250,000 - 350,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Hans Memling
  • Portrait of a young woman
  • oil on panel


Johann Hahn, Vienna, until 1927;
With M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1927;
By whom sold to Robert Clark, New York; 1927;
With M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1927;
By whom sold to Edward Harkness, New York;
Thence by descent to Mary Stillman Harkness;
Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1950, inv. no. 50.145.28.


Bruges, Stedelijk Museum, Memling Tentoonstelling, 22 June – 1 October 1939, no. 33.


M.J. Friedländer, Die altniederländische Malerei, Vol. 6, Memling und Gerard David, Berlin 1928, p. 132, cat. no. 95, reproduced, plate 47 (as Memling);
F. Winkler, "An Unknown Portrait of a Woman by Memling," in Apollo, 7, January–June 1928, p. 12, reproduced (as Memling);
H. Wehle, "Paintings Lent from the Harkness Collection," in Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 28, January 1933, p. 12 (as Memling);
M.J. Friedländer, Die altniederländische Malerei, Vol. 14, Pieter Bruegel und Nachträge zu den früheren Bänden, Leiden 1937, p. 103, cat. no. 95;
M.J. Friedländer, "The Memling Exhibition at Bruges," in The Burlington Magazine, 75, 1939, p. 123;
C. Eisler, "Erik Larsen, Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York, 1960", in Art Bulletin, 46, March 1964, p. 103;
G. Faggin, L'opera completa di Memling, Milan 1969, p. 112, cat. no. 119, reproduced (as Memling);
M. J. Friedländer, et al, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. 6, Hans Memling and Gerard David, New York 1971, Part 1, p. 57, cat. no. 95, plate 124 (as Memling);
B. Lane, Hans Memling: Werkverzeichnis, Frankfurt 1980, pp. 18, 20, cat. no .19, reproduced;
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born in or Before 1865, vol. 1. New York 1980, p. 125, reproduced, vol. III, p. 23 (as Memling);
I. Verhoeven, "De chronologie der portretten van Hans Memling." Master's thesis, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels 1985, no. 5; 
D. De Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works, Ghent 1994, p. 130, cat. no. 21, reproduced (where described as probably autograph);
M.W. Ainsworth and K. Christiansen (ed.s), From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue, New York 1998, p. 409, reproduced;
T.-H. Borchert, Memling's Portraits, exhibition catalogue, Madrid and Ghent 2005, p. 177;
L. Campbell, Memling's Portraits, exhibition catalogue, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid and Ghent 2005, p. 54;
B.G. Lane, Hans Memling: Master Painter in Fifteenth-Century Bruges, London 2009, p. 112, no. 20, p. 298, no. 53, reproduced fig. 240 (as Memling).


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work has been slightly enlarged around the edges, and there is faint evidence of filling and perhaps an additional piece of wood around the edges which is not visible on the reverse because of the cradle. The varnish is dull and the painting has been restored. The retouches are certainly accurate and it may be that a fresh varnish would improve the picture adequately. However, as these are pictures which are very often judged by their weak moments, every effort should be made to retouch this picture as carefully and thoughtfully as possible. At present, one area in the lower right has been cleaned to reveal the nonoriginal paint around the extreme edge. There are retouches throughout the picture, addressing some cracking and some thinness. One does expect cracking and even thinness from a work of this period, and although cleaning would remove restoration, it may reveal a work of more character.
"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

Max J. Friedländer was among the first to publish this small-scale Portrait of a Woman, where he listed it as a fully autograph work by Memling, whose portraits, especially of women, are exceedingly rare.1 Dirk de Vos has much more recently dated the picture to before 1475, which would place it between Memling's Portrait of Maria Baroncelli of 1475 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 14.40.627), and his Portrait of a Young Woman of 1480 (Sint-Janshospitaal, Memlingmuseum, Bruges, inv. no. SJ174.I). Barbara Lane places the picture slightly later, circa 1480, based on comparison with two works by the Master of the Legend of St. Ursula, a Portrait of a Lady with a Pink (Antwerp, Museum Mayer van den Bergh) and the Epitaph of Anna van Nieuwenhove (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art).2 In both of these comparative works, the ladies depicted wear a similarly styled cone-shaped hennin and ring of velvet, or frontel. No theories as to the identity of the sitter have been suggested in previous sources, and though anonymous, she bears a very similar likeness to the woman in the bottom right corner of the central panel of Memling's Last Judgement.3  At some point in its history this picture was probably cut down, as all of Memling's sitters have at least one hand showing in the composition, while this picture does not.  Its measurements are also curiously smaller than any other of his accepted portraits.

1. see Literature, Friedländer 1928, p. 132. 
2. see Literature, Lane 2009, p. 298. 
3. see Literature, Verhoeven 1985.