Though many names have been proposed, none has proven convincing enough to cast any light on the master's personality further than that he worked in the Middle Rhine area, most likely in Frankfurt-am-Main, and that he must have received commissions from both laymen and religious figures. The paintings attributed to him and his workshop are almost exclusively religious;1 those most securely connected to the master are the panels of the Speyer Passion altarpiece, in which the figure types and underdrawing share close parallels with his graphic work of the 1480s.2
This little Annunciation may well once have formed part of a diptych or the wing of an altarpiece. Similarities with a number of paintings that have been given to the workshop of the Master of the Housebook and his circle suggest that the artist who painted this panel was familiar with his work and influence, and probably lived in the same place. Most comparable in conception is the Annunciation panel in the Landesmuseum, Mainz, attributed to his workshop, circa 1500, which likewise depicts a vaulted room, the angel with peacock feather wings, and even the same tiled floor.3 Two panels also considered from the master's circle and of a similar date – possibly even by the same hand as the present work – represent Saint Margaret and Saint Michael; Margaret's lowered face, hooded eyelids and expression are very close to Mary's in the present scene, and Michael wears the same wreath around his long wavy hair.4 Schedl dates the present panel slightly later to circa 1505.
1 The Amorous Couple in Gotha, Schloss Friedenstein, is the only secular painting attributed to the Master; see Schedl 2016, pp. 210–22 and 474–76, reproduced fig. 72.
2 The Crucifixion, Ecce Homo and Christ before Caiaphus, Freiburg im Breisgau, Augustinermuseum, inv. nos 11531a–c; the Resurrection, Frankfurt-am-Main, Städel, inv. no. SG 447; and Christ washing the feet of the disciples and The Last Supper, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, inv. nos 2072–73; see Schedl 2016, pp. 176–81 and 454–57, cat. no. 30, reproduced figs 57 and 58.
3 Inv. no. 430; see Schedl 2016, pp. 186–92 and 459–62, cat. no. 31b, reproduced fig. 62.
4 Rottenburg am Neckar, Diözesanmuseum, inv. no. 2.49; see Schedl 2016, pp. 246–47 and 494–95, cat. no. 48, reproduced figs 90 and 91.
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