Property from a European Private Collection | 歐洲私人收藏
SIMON FRANCK | Wings from an altarpiece: Saint Achatius with a train of knights and nobles; and Saint Ursula with an entourage of maidens | 西蒙・弗蘭克 | | 祭壇畫翼屏：《聖阿加爵與一隊騎士和貴族》及《聖烏爾蘇拉與隨行的未婚女子》
Estimate: 400,000 - 600,000 GBP
Property from a European Private Collection
circa 1500 - 1546/47 Aschaffenburg
約1500 - 1546/47年，阿沙芬堡
Wings from an altarpiece: Saint Achatius with a train of knights and nobles; and Saint Ursula with an entourage of maidens
a pair, both oil on panel, with gilded and incised arched tops
each: 219.1 x 97.8 cm.; 86¼ x 38½ in.
各幅：219.1 x 97.8公分；86 ¼ x 38 ½英寸
The following condition report is provided by Hamish Dewar who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
The pair of panels have been cradled and appear to be generally sound and secure although there is some minor localised lifting paint and slightly raised craquelure in places. These areas would benefit from localised structural consolidation. This is most evident along a thin vertical line running down through the central standing figure of St. Achatius.
The pair of paintings have even varnish layers. Inspection under ultraviolet light shows numerous small spots and lines of retouching on both paintings, all of which have clearly been carefully applied and the great majority are not visible in natural light. There are fine vertical lines covering repaired panel joins and splits on both paintings, particularly running up from the lower horizontal edges. The dark backgrounds above the figures on both paintings have been extensively retouched. There may be further retouchings which I could not identify under ultraviolet light.
The pair of paintings would therefore appear to be in essentially good and stable condition having been carefully conserved and restored in the past and only require minimal localised structural intervention. The extent of the retouchings applied in the past should be noted.
Numerous photographs under ultraviolet light are available if required
"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."
Charles Maurice Camille de Talleyrand-Périgord, 4th Duke of Dino, 2nd Marquis de Talleyrand (1843–1917);
By whom sold, London, Christie's, 14 May 1904, lot 103 (as L. Cranach), for £115.10s. to Madame Helft;
Baron and Baroness Raoul von Kuffner (1886–1961), Castle de Dioszegh, near Bratislava, Slovakia, by 1932;
Their sale, New York, Parke-Bernet, 18 November 1948, lot 33 and 34 (as Master of the Pflockschen Altarpiece);
Private collector, New York;
By whom sold, New York, Parke-Bernet, 15 November 1950, lots 71 and 72 (as Master of the Pflockschen Altarpiece);
Anonymous sale, Munich, Weinmüller, 5–6 December 1962, lots 1272 and 1272a (as Master of the Pflockschen Altarpiece);
Acquired at the above by a private collector, Austria;
By inheritance to the present owner.
M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Berlin 1932, p. 95, cat. no. 354 (as Master of the Pflock Altarpiece);
M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Basel 1979, pp. 158-59, cat. no. SUP 2, the former reproduced fig. SUP 2.
These large, impressive panels originally constituted the wings of an altarpiece, datable to between 1520–23, painted by Simon Franck, who was among the most accomplished pupils of one of the most famous artists of the Northern Renaissance, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553). Franck became court painter to Cranach’s great patron, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (1490–1545), the most powerful prelate in the Holy Roman Empire, producing overtly Catholic imagery for the cardinal at a time when Cranach himself was working for the architect of the Reformation, Martin Luther.
The wings depict two martyr saints and their entourages. Achatius is a saint rarely depicted, identified in Christian legend as a Cappadocian Greek centurion of the imperial army martyred in around 304 AD when he refused to renounce his Christian faith. He is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, or Auxiliary Saints, venerated in Catholicism for their effective intercession against various diseases. Achatius is pictured here wearing a full suit of armour, denoting his status as a soldier, holding a lance and a branch in his hands. His companions are men of different ages, some also wearing armour, others wearing fashionable, noble contemporary dress. Ursula is a figure more commonly found in German painting. She was, according to medieval legend, a princess who died in a massacre at Cologne along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens upon returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, reputedly in the late 4th century AD. The saint is represented holding an open book and the arrow that symbolises her martyrdom. She is differentiated from her maiden companions by her hair, which is pinned up under a bonnet and veil, as opposed to the loose-flowing hair or plaits worn by the other women.
Both groups are shown tightly packed against black backdrops with half-rounded tops, figures in profile on either side of the compositions framing the protagonists. The upper areas are gilded and incised with floral patterns, similar to the panels of The Last Supper altarpiece in the Kunigundenkirche, Rochlitz, attributed to Franck, and datable to circa 1521. The subject of the central panel originally flanked by the present wings must remain uncertain, but it is likely also to have been topped with an arched gilded and incised section, if it was not carved. It may also perhaps have been characterised by the strong, limited colour scheme of black, orange, red, white and green, which contributes to the striking impression made by these works.
Simon Franck is understood to have trained in the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, who entrusted his pupil with several important commissions for Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, for whom Franck worked in Halle, and afterwards in Aschaffenburg, by which time he had set up as an independent master.1 His most notable works include his supervision and execution of parts of the extraordinarily extensive cycle of 16 altarpieces (comprising more than 142 separate panels) based on Cranach’s designs, depicting the Passion and Saints, for Cardinal Albrecht’s collegiate church of Saints Maurice and Mary Magdalene (the Neues Stift) in Halle, between 1520 and 1525. Franck is also known to have worked on the ambitious altarpiece for the Marktkirche in Halle, with its elaborately embellished Renaissance architecture, in circa 1529.2 A possible self-portrait of Franck may be found in the figure holding an embroidered black beret in the centre of the large Mass of Saint Gregory with Albrecht of Brandenburg panel, which carries an erstwhile attribution to Franck.3
The artist’s style and aesthetic is clearly heavily indebted to that of his master, Cranach, though his technique is more plastic. The physiognomy of his figures’ faces is consistent across both panels: eyes set relatively far apart, often with a slightly furrowed brow; features defined graphically, with small, projecting chins, and the women in particular characterised by their high foreheads. Extensive underdrawing defining these contours is visible in the flesh tones, probably executed with a brush. The crowns of the figures' heads are each modelled with a slightly darker curve, giving the impression of snug-fitting, cap-like hair. In the hands that are visible – those of the young nobleman in green, and Ursula’s – the fingers are described with spare, confident drawing, with large fingernails and rather flexible thumbs. Franck’s rendering of drapery is also idiosyncratic. This is particularly notable in the costumes of Saint Ursula and her entourage, where the hems of their cloaks form ornamental but planar, calligraphic lines, and the quantities of material beneath appear to hold their own, sculptural volume. The same effect is found in another portrayal of Saint Ursula by Franck, in the Museen der Stadt, Aschaffenburg.4
1 Franck is consequently also known as Simon von Aschaffenburg. He has in the past been identified as the Pseudo-Grünewald, partly because he was Mattheus Grünewald’s successor at Cardinal Albrecht’s court, partly because this nomenclature came to encompass a range of works by followers of Cranach. He has also previously been associated with The Master of the Pflock Altar (author of the altarpiece patronised by Lorenz Pflock (d. 1521) in the Church of Saint Anne, Annaberg, Saxony), and The Master of the Mass of Saint Gregory – both personalities which are likely to be identifiable with Franck himself.
2 See A. Tacke, Der katholische Cranach. Zu zwei Grossaufträgen von Lucas Cranach d.Ä., Simon Franck und der Cranach-Werkstatt (1520–1540), Mainz 1992, pp. 49 ff., reproduced.
3 Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich, inv. no. 6271; see G. Ermischer and A. Tacke (eds), Cranach im Exil. Aschaffenburg um 1540, exh. cat., Regensburg 2007, pp. 25 and 306–8, no. 51, reproduced in colour p. 307.
4 See Ermischer and Tacke 2007, pp. 283–86, no. 25b, reproduced in colour p. 284.