Master of the Aeneid (active around 1530 - 40)
The plague on Pergamos - image-1
Master of the Aeneid (active around 1530 - 40)
The plague on Pergamos - image-2
Master of the Aeneid (active around 1530 - 40)
The plague on Pergamos - image-1Master of the Aeneid (active around 1530 - 40)
The plague on Pergamos - image-2

Lot 813 Dα

Master of the Aeneid (active around 1530 - 40) The plague on Pergamos

Auction 1244 - overview Cologne
15.05.2024, 16:00 - Decorative Arts Furniture
Estimate: 30.000 € - 40.000 €

Master of the Aeneid (active around 1530 - 40)
The plague on Pergamos

Polychrome enamel and gilding on a triangular cut copper panel. Inscribed in white with inventory no. X17336 and bearing a label with the same number inscribed in ink on the reverse. Restored chips to the lower rim and in the lower left corner, an angular retouched area in the arch on the left. H 19.4, W 19.7 cm.
Limoges, 1530s.

This artist, who is known as the Master of the Aeneid, has still not been identified by name. All that is known is that he was active in the first half of the 16th century. He is identified by the group of objects that represent the bulk of his oeuvre - a series of 82 panels with scenes from Virgil's Aeneid, which Sophie Baratte compiled and published in 2001. The present panel can be counted as the 83rd work in this ensemble. We also know the prototypes used by the Master of the Aeneid, namely the woodcuts of Hans Grüninger or Jean Gruninger (1455 - 1532), a Swabian publisher who settled in Strasbourg and to whose Aenaeis, "Publij Virgilij Maronis Opera", published in 1502, Sebastian Brant wrote the introduction.

The story from which a scene is depicted here is found in Book III of Virgil's epic poem (verse 90 ff.). Aeneas tells Dido how he asks the oracle where he should settle and build a new city for the surviving Trojans. He misinterprets the oracle's message and comes to the conclusion that he must sail to Crete. When he arrives in Pergamos on Crete, fate strikes: "Suddenly, through foul air, a year of pestilence arrived, miserable for crops and trees, consuming marrow and limbs, with deadly plagues. He who did not depart from life, the beloved, dragged his body along, wasting away." (verse 135 f.) While the plague, to which both humans and animals fall victim, rages in Pergamos, as can be seen on this panel, Aeneas has a prophetic dream in which he is told by the Penates that he should settle in Italy. The Trojans then abandon Pergamos.

The present panel was probably cut from a square to its present triangular shape, just like the second published triangular example in the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt. Grüninger's woodcut shows what is missing: the sleeping Aeneas surrounded by the Penates can be seen in the fully depicted building on the left, the cityscape extends further back in the centre, and individual rocks rise out of the sea behind the anchored ships on the right; there are also inscribed banderoles on the upper edge and above the figures in Aeneas' bedroom. The original height of the panel was probably around 23 cm.

These two triangular pieces formed the pediment of a casket in which a further 14 square panels by the Aenaeas Master were incorporated. The casket is illustrated in the 1892 auction catalogue of the Hollingworth Magniac Collection. Julius and Selig Goldschmidt acquired the object, dismantled and sold the panels individually. The two triangular panels went to the Frankfurt Historical Museum - according to the Deutsche Fotothek as early as 1896, although Baratte listed them with Justus Porgès in 1912. The consecutive inventory numbers on the backs of the plates prove that both triangles were inventoried at the same time; however, the present panel was removed from the museum collection and remained in family ownership until recent years.


Hollingworth Magniac Collection (1786 - 1867), Colworth, Bedford.

Auction of his estate at Christie, Manson & Woods in July 1892, lot 528.

Acquired there by the firm of J & S Goldschmidt, Frankfurt, who dismantled it and sold the parts on individually.

Frankfurt Historical Museum, 1896 or 1912 - 1934.

Acquired by the present owner 15 years ago from Dr Harald Reitmeier.


Cf. Netzer, Maleremails from Limoges. Der Bestand des Berliner Kunstgewerbemuseums, Berlin 1999, cat. no. 4.

Cf. Baratte, Les émaux peints de Limoges. Musée du Louvre - Département des objets d'art, Paris 2000, pp. 56 ff.

Cf. Baratte, La série de plaques du Maître de L'Enéide, in: Etudes d'histoire de l'art offertes à Jacques Thirion. Des premiers temps chrétiens au XXe siècle, Paris 2001, p. 133 ff.
See also Müsch, Maleremails des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts aus Limoges, Braunschweig 2002, p. 44, a commentary on the Master of the Aeneid, who, together with Jean Pénicaud, used the earliest arsenic- and bismuth-rich blue enamel pigments in around 1530.

For the motif see Dupeux/Lévy/Wirth (eds.), La Gravure d'Illustration en Alsace au XVIe Siècle, tome I. Jean Gruninger 1501-1506, Strasbourg 1992, pp. 22 ff., figs. 419 and 421.