Lot 5
  • 5

THE MASTER OF THE AACHEN ALTARPIECE | The Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints Catherine and Ursula

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • The Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints Catherine and Ursula
  • oil on oak panel
  • 43 x 60 cm.


Nettesheim; Graf Werner Moritz Maria von Haxthausen (1780-1842), by whom lent to the Wallrafianum in 1826 (no. 11), until 15 March 1833;

Said to have been in the collections of J.G. Schmitz and J.P. Weyer in Cologne (see catalogue note); 

Fürst Karl Anton von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, by 1871 ("Gekauft von Schmitz in Köln"), and located in the Fürstlich Hohenzollernsches Museum, Sigmaringen;

With A.S. Drey, New York, 1928;

Catalina von Pannwitz, Berlin, Amsterdam & Heemstede;

Thence by descent until sold before 1996;

With Klaus Edel, 1996;

With Klaus Edel & Heide Hübner in 2001;

Acquired by the late husband of the present owner shortly after.


Munich, Kunst und Antiquitätenmesse, 29 November – 4 December 1996, no. 3;
London, Galerie Edel Ltd., 8-13 December 1996, no. 3.


M.J. de Noël, Inventarliste Haxthausen, 1826, Historisches Archiv der Stadt
Köln, Bestand 610 (Museum), no. 11 (in Kier and Zehnder 1998);

F.A. Lehner,  Fürstlich Hohenzollern'sches Museum zu Sigmaringen - Verzeichnis der Gemälde, Sigmaringen 1871, p. 20, no. 59; M.J. Friedländer, in Amtliche Bericht aus den Königlichen Kunstsammlungen Berlin, 38, June 1917, p. 225;

F. Rieffel, 'Das Fürstlich Hohenzollernsche Museum zu Sigmaringen', in Städel-Jahrbuch, vols 3/4, 1924, p. 61, reproduced p. 60, fig. 55;

M.J. Friedländer, 'Der Kölnische Meister des Aacher Altares', in Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch, vol. I, 1924, p. 103;

Katalog des Fürstlichen Sammlungen Sigmaringen, 1925, no. 59;

H. Reiners, Die Kölner Malerschule, Mönchengladbach 1925, pp. 235–36, reproduced fig. 273;

H. Kisky in F. Thieme & U. Becker, Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, vol. XXXVI, Leipzig 1950, p. 1;

A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, vol. 5, Berlin 1952, p. 120;

H. Kisky in Kölner Malerei der Spätgotik, exh. cat., Cologne 1961, p. 50;

A. Stange, Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer, Munich 1967, vol. I, p. 107, no. 329;

K. Edel, `Lustgewinn statt Lust-Ver-lust.  Zur Geschichte unseres Gemäldes vom kölnische Meister des Aachener Altars,' in Made in Germany: Austellung - Gemälde alter Meister: Exhibition Old Master Paintings, Galerie Edel, Cologne and London, 1996, cat. no. 3, reproduced;

H. Kier and F.G. Zehnder, Lust und Verlust, vol II, Corpus-Band zu Kölner Gemäldesammlungen 1800-1860, Cologne 1998, p. 296, no. 24, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

This Master, considered one of the most important of the later Cologne School, is named after a large altarpiece of the Passion now in the choir of the Cathedral at Aachen, but originally in the Karmeliterkirche in Cologne (until at least 1642), and subsequently in the Lyversberg collection, Cologne. Thought to have been trained in the workshop of the (Cologne) Younger Master of the Holy Kinship, his early work, of which this is one, shows similarities with the Master of Saint Severin and the (Cologne) Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula. He is believed to have been active between circa 1480 and 1520 in the city of Cologne, where he must have run a substantial workshop. Among his most important works is another altarpiece of the Passion, displayed in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.1 Most of the leading painters of the Cologne School, from the fifteenth century until the early sixteenth century, remain anonymous and, as with the present Master, attempts to identify them have generally proved futile. No doubt frustrated by the anonymity of his subject, Ernst Buchner attempted to rename him the Master of the Hardenrath chapel, but that appellation has not found favour. Th. Rensing believed that a name inscribed on an altarpiece wing, Hermann Soytman, might identify him, while Fedja Anzelewsky linked him with the engraver, the Monogrammist P.W.2 His figural and especially his expressive facial types are quite distinctive, deviating from the smoother forms found in the Netherlandish artists who so strongly influenced the Cologne School, or in Cologne artists such as the Master of the Bartholomew Altarpiece. For a comparison with the present panel, see the work by the Master of the Aachen Altarpiece in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.3  

Werner von Haxthausen was born into a Westphalian noble family, and became a Councillor to the Prussian administration in the Rhineland, settling in Cologne, where he assembled a substantial art collection.  he was one of a generation of Cologne collectors who benefitted hugely from the secularization under Napoleon's rule, whereby a vast number of paintings and sculpture exited churches and especially monasteries, a process that probably continued after the peace of 1814.  He fell from favour in 1826, leaving the Prussian administration, his hopes of a diplomatic career dashed.  In the same year he entered into a ten year contract to lend his collection, in conjunction with the heirs of the great Cologne collector Ferdinand Franz Wallraf, who had died in 1924, to the planned Rheinischen Museum in Cologne, the Haxthausen paintings initially to be kept in the Rathaus, with other constituent parts elsewhere, the institution known colloquially as the Wallfrafianum.  In return the City of Cologne was to restore his pictures at no cost to him.  An inventory drawn up in 1826 by Matthias Joseph De Noël (Curator of the Wallrafianum) and preserved in the Archive of the City of Cologne describes the collection in sufficient detail for many of the works to be identified today, and from De Noël we learn that the present picture, like a number of others was acquired from Nettesheim.4  From 1831 onwards, unhappy at the restoration programme, Haxthausen started to remove works from the planned museum, and some, including the present work, were sold.

This painting was previously thought to have been in the Cologne collections of Johann Georg Schmitz (1761–1845) and Johann Peter Weyer (1794–1864), the latter having acquired it at the former's sale in 1846, but the painting of the same subject that they owned is now thought to be a slightly larger (52 x 71 cm.) picture now in the Wallfraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, as German, early 16th century.5  It is possible that Schmitz may nonetheless have owned the present picture, since the Hohenzollern catalogue of 1871 notes that "it was bought from Schmitz in Cologne."6

1 The central panel of the Crucifixion is on long-term loan from the National Gallery, London; see M. Compton (ed.), Walker Art Gallery. Foreign Schools Catalogue, Liverpool 1963, vol. 1, pp. 104–05, nos 1225–6, reproduced vol. 2, pp. 130–32.

2 All cited by G. Goldberg and G. Scheffler, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Gemäldekataloge, Altdeutsche Gemälde, vol. XIV, Munich 1972, p. 210.

3 Goldberg and Scheffler 1972, pp. 215–18, no. 10756, reproduced in the Plate volume, plate 115.

4 It is not clear who or what  Nettesheim was, but Ferdinand Franz Wallraf's mother, Anna Elisabeth, was born into a family of brewers called Nettesheim.  It may also refer to the town of Nettesheim near Dormagen, not far from Cologne.

5 See Kier & Zehnder, 1998, pp. 331–32, 461, no. 47, reproduced (Schmitz), no. 80 (Weyer).

6 See Lehner, 1971.