Lot 119
  • 119

ANTWERP SCHOOL, CIRCA 1520 | The Virgin and the Christ Child with Saint Anne before a rose bower (Anna Selbdritt)

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • The Virgin and the Christ Child with Saint Anne before a rose bower (Anna Selbdritt)
  • oil on panel, arched top
  • 33 x 22.9 cm.; 12 5/8  x 9 in.


The Imperial Gallery, Vienna, inv. no. 940, by 1783 (as Rogier van der Weyde), until deaccessioned 3 February 1928 (as Netherlandish circa 1520);1
Acquired from the above by Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna, 8 March 1928, for 3,000 marks;
Marianne Khuner (1890–1984), Beverly Hills and New York;
By whose Estate sold, New York, Christie's, 15 January 1985, lot 204 (as circle of Joos van Kalkar), where acquired by
Peter Jay Sharp;
His Estate sale, New York, Sotheby's, 13 January 1994, lot 60 (as Master of the Embroidered Foliage);
With Galerie de Jonckheere, Brussels;
From whom acquired by the uncle of the present owner, 15 March 2005.


C. von Mechel, Verzeichniss der Gemälde der Kaiserlich Königlichen Bilder Gallerie in Wien, Vienna 1783, p. 156, cat. no. 25 (as Roger van der Weyde);
J. Rosa Jr, Belvedere Picture Gallery inventory, MS held in the archive of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Vienna 1816/17, 'as hanging on the 2nd floor, in room 3, no. 22';
A. Krafft, Verzeichniss der kais. kön. Gemälde-Gallerie im Belvedere zu Wien, Vienna 1837, p. 226, cat. no. 21 (as Roger van der Weyde [sic.]);
E. Engert, Catalog der k.k. Gemälde-Gallerie im Belvedere zu Wien, Vienna 1858, p. 129, cat. no. 7 (as Roger van der Weyde [sic.]);
Kunsthistorische Sammlungen des allerhochsten Kaiserhauses. Die Gemäldegalerie. Alte Meister,
Vienna 1907, p. 177, cat. no. 758 (as Netherlandish, circa 1520);
W. Deiters, Die Wiener Gemäldegalerie unter Gustav Glück. Von der kaiserlichen Sammlung zum modernen Museum, Munich 2016, p. 132 (as Netherlandish, circa 1520).


The panel is uncradled, flat and stable. There are slim additions applied to either side of the panel, no more than 0.5 cm. wide. The paint surface is relatively clean and the varnish is clear and even. The colours are bright and well-preserved and there are no major damages visible to the naked eye, though all the edges, approx. 0.5 cm. wide, have been made up - this is most visible around the curved upper margin. There are small retouched losses in the gilding, upper centre. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals retouching along two old vertical surface splits, approx. 5 cm. from the left margin, which extend from the upper and lower margins, each stopping short of the figure of the Virgin. There are further spot retouchings, one in the Virgin's proper right elbow; two in the lower hem of Saint Anne's robe; and a handful of fine lines and small spots in the background to the right of this. There is some retouching along all margins, and a handful of pinprick retouchings in the faces of the Virgin and Christ Child, but the painting is in overall good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Once forming part of the Imperial Collection in Vienna, this Anna Selbdritt was traditionlly attributed to Rogier van der Weyden. Referred to as the work of Rogier throughout the Imperial Collection inventories of the late 18th and 19th centuries, the attribution seems to have first been challenged in the 1907 catalogue of the Imperial Collection which records the painting as anonymous, and notes the opinion of L. Scheibler as proposing a possible attribution to Jan Coninxloo the Elder. It was later offered at auction in 1985 as from the circle of Joos van Kalkar, and in 1994 as by the Master of the Embroidered Foliage.2 Since the attribution to Rogier had been dismissed by the early 20th century, this undeniably high-quality devotional panel has eluded an alternative firm attribution. What is certain is that the composition of this delightful panel bears comparison with the works of the Master of Frankfurt, an anonymous master working in Antwerp in the last decades of the 15th century, and the early decades of the 16th century. The Master of Frankfurt's chief importance lies in his continuing the great tradition of 15th century Netherlandish painting (particularly the compositions of Rogier van der Weyden and Hugo van der Goes) well into the 16th century, his development of a markedly earthy figure type, his apparently innovative management of a large workshop that produced paintings directly for the open market, and his status (along with his great contemporary, Quentin Massys) as a founder of the distinguished tradition of painting in Antwerp.

The Master of Frankfurt's eponymous work, the great Saint Anne Altarpiece, or Altarpiece of the Holy Kindred,3 of circa 1505, bears compositional and iconographic similarities with the present panel, as well as comparable smaller details such as the representation of God the Father at the top of the panel; the ornate carpet of foliage and inclusion of exotic headwear.

Between the years of about 1480 and 1520 images of Saint Anne were especially sought after. She was no longer seen merely as an intercessor, but due to her blood relationship with Christ, she was judged to have power in her own right to assist in the salvation of souls. Popular devotion of Saint Anne gave rise to a new iconographic type known as Anna Selbdritt. The phrase literally means 'Anne herself the third', or 'Anne makes three.' The structure of this iconographic motif derives from earlier medieval depictions of Mary with the Christ Child on her lap, known as the 'seat of wisdom' type. The figure of Saint Anne began to be added to this type during the late 13th century, the older woman most frequently presented as mature, and Mary sometimes portrayed as a child, or a smaller adult woman. Often the figures of Mary and Jesus were placed within the contours of the figure of Saint Anne, or her cloak, but here we see the mother and daughter given equal status, sitting side by side.4

1 See Deiters 2016, p. 132.
2 See Provenance.
3 See J.O. Hand, 'Saint Anne with the Virgin and the Christ Child by the Master of Frankfurt', Studies in the History of Art, vol. 12, 1982, p. 47, reproduced.
4 For further discussion of the iconography of the Anna Selbdritt see V. Nixon, The Anna Selbdritt in late medieval Germany: Meaning and function of a religious image, doctoral diss., Concordia University, Montreal 1997.