Lot 26
  • 26

Southern Netherlandish, second half 14th century

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • God the Father
  • gilt and polychromed walnut
  • Southern Netherlandish, second half 14th century


Private collection, Bruges, photographed 1917/1918 (Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, no. fm195187); recorded as in the Gruuthusemuseum, Bruges, 1917/1918 (Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, no. 1.154.932);
private collection, Ghent

Catalogue Note

This distinguished figure of God the Father enthroned would have formed part of a representation of the Trinity as the 'Throne of Mercy'. The iconography of the seated Father presenting a cross with the crucified Christ surmounted by the Dove of the Holy Ghost developed in Western Art during the Middle Ages and by the 15th century was a common motif in both painting and sculpture. Earlier representations of the Throne of Mercy are rarer; examples include one such figure within a Rhenish figural shrine from circa 1300 (Metropolitan Museum, inv. no. 17.190.185), whose rigid, frontal positioning defines the type and is analogous to the present figure.

Recorded in Bruges in the early 20th century, the present sculpture seems traditionally to have been considered to be from Flanders and dated to the late 14th century (see caption, Foto Marburg, no. fm195187). This dating is supported by the stylised waves of hair framing the ears, the large head, and the restrained, clinging drapery, which are typical features of 14th-century northern European sculpture. The figure's face and hairstyle, with a tuft of hair above the forehead, compare with a Flemish 14th-century Standing Christ recorded in the Gruuthusemuseum, Bruges (Foto Marburg, no. fm195184). Another compelling comparison can be made with a seated St. Paul in the Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster (inv. no. E 82), which is dated to the third quarter of the 14th century and thought to come from Liège (see Rhein und Maas, op. cit.). Note the similarity of hairstyle and beard, facial type with rippled forehead and long nose, as well as the arrangement of the drapery. The possibility of a Mosan origin for the God the Father can therefore not be excluded.

Rhein und Maas: Kunst und Kultur 800-1400, exh. cat. Cologne and Brussels, Cologne, 1972, vol. 1, pp. 365-366, no. N 10

The present lot is offered with a Radiocarbon dating measurement report (ref. no. RCD-8912) prepared by J. Walker of RCD Lockinge, dated May 2017, which states that the wood from the sample dates between AD 901 and 1036 (95% confidence interval).