Netherlandish School 16th century - Altarpiece with the Crucifixion
Netherlandish School 16th century
Altarpiece with the Crucifixion
Oil on panel. Central panel 101 x 82 cm, each wing 101 x 32 cm.
The present altarpiece has been the subject of intensive study by numerous scholars throughout the past years. The work was first ascribed to the œuvre of Jan van Scorel (1495 Schoorl - 1562 Utrecht) in the 1920s, but it was already reassigned to Jan Swart van Groningen (1500 Groningen - 1562 Antwerp) in the 1930s. This attribution was considered valid until 2019, at which point it came to be questioned by several experts, although they generally agreed that the painting was closely related to van Groningen's works. Although the piece has not yet been definitively attributed to any particular artist, it can be established with certainty that the work was painted by someone with knowledge of Jan Swart van Groningen's works - probably someone from his closer circle.
This altarpiece depicts the crucifixion of Christ in its central panel. The three crosses and the soldiers that stand on either side of them are not depicted face on, but are instead placed diagonally within the unusually rendered landscape. In this arrangement it is not the crucified Christ who forms the centre of the composition, but the figure of the mourning Virgin Mary. In the opened position, the two side panels of the altarpiece depict Christ carrying the cross on the left and Christ resurrected on the right. When closed, they show the altarpiece's donor, who can be identified as a bishop due to his staff and mitre, kneeling in prayer opposite a figure of Christ as the Man of Sorrows. The three panels are thought to have been set into their current frame (130 x 194 cm) whilst in the Grzimek collection, whereby the side panels are not mounted to be folded inwards, but outwards.
The Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe collection. - The Singewald collection, Leipzig. - The Grzimek collection, Berlin, 1936. - Henceforth in family ownership.
Max J. Friedländer: Die altniederländische Malerei. vol. 13. Anthonis Mor und seine Zeitgenossen, Leiden 1936, p. 22 & 141, no. 2, pl. II.