oil on panel
support: h 132.4 cm × w 101.7 cm
frame: h 149.1 cm × w 119.4 cm × t 9 cm
oil on panel
support: h 132.4 cm × w 101.7 cm
frame: h 149.1 cm × w 119.4 cm × t 9 cm
The support consists of four vertically grained oak planks (26.1, 20.8, 28.2 and 26.2 cm). The reverse was planed down to a thickness of approx. 0.2 cm for the addition of a cradle. Dendrochronology has shown that planks I and IV came from the same tree. The youngest heartwood ring was formed in 1483. The panel could have been ready for use by 1494, but a date in or after 1508 is more likely. The white ground, which is visible along the edges and shows through the brown earth in the background, was applied in the original frame. There are unpainted edges approx. 0.2-0.6 cm wide and the remains of a barbe on all sides (painted surface: 131.1 x 101.1 cm). Infrared reflectography could only reveal a fairly cursory underdrawing in certain parts of the composition, chiefly the draperies. It was applied with the brush in a wet medium, and consists mainly of contour lines, with a few hatchings for the shaded passages. Mordant gilding was used for the haloes around St Lucy’s head.
Fair. There is local abrasion, discoloured retouchings along the joins, and several layers of discoloured varnish.
…; ? collection Berger;1 sale, Erasmus Ritter von Engert (1796-1871, Vienna), sold on the premises (Miethke & Wawra), 5 June 1871 sqq., no. 38, fl. 350, to the dealers H.O. Miethke and Wawra;2 …; sale, Friedrich Lippmann (1838-1903, Vienna), Paris (Boussaton), 16 March 1876 sqq., no. 17, as Gerhard von Haarlem; …; from the dealer H.O. Miethke, Vienna, fl. 2,500, to the museum, with support from the Vereniging Rembrandt, 1897; on loan to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, since March 2004
Object number: SK-A-1688
Credit line: Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt
Copyright: Public domain
Master of the Figdor Deposition (active in Haarlem and/or Amsterdam c. 1490-1510)
The Master of the Figdor Deposition acquired his name from The Deposition that was once in the collection of the banker and collector Albert Figdor (1843-1927) in Vienna, and is now lost (see fig. a). On the back of that panel was a scene of the martyrdom of St Lucy, which is now in the Rijksmuseum. The original panel was sawn through transversely in the 19th century, separating the two paintings.
Valentiner and Friedländer assigned two Crucifixion scenes to the oeuvre of this anonymous northern Netherlandish artist on the basis of their stylistic similarities to Christ on the Cross (SK-A-2212) and The Martyrdom of St Lucy in Utrecht.3 In 1996, Huys Janssen added a rediscovered panel with The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew in Poeldijk.4 Recent research, however, has demonstrated that the latter may be a youthful work by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen.5
Attempts have been made to identify this anonymous artist. Hoogewerff, for example, suggested that he was Jan Gerritz Swegher, who died in Haarlem in 1514. That, though, is speculative, since Swegher is known only from archival documents, and not a single painting can be attributed to him. The panels by the Master of the Figdor Deposition are clearly influenced by the work of Geertgen tot Sint Jans, which is one reason why he is thought to have been trained in Haarlem. There is also a debt to the painter and printmaker Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, who worked in Amsterdam. Valentiner and Friedländer assumed that the Figdor Master was Jacob Cornelisz’s teacher, but Baldass and Schretlen regarded the work of the anonymous artist as the youthful products of Jacob Cornelisz himself. Both theories are hypothetical, but the affinities with Geertgen and Jacob Cornelisz confirm that the Master of the Figdor Deposition was active in both Haarlem and Amsterdam.
Valentiner 1914, pp. 69-71; Friedländer V, 1927, pp. 56-57, 136; Hoogewerff II, 1937, pp. 211-20; Schretlen 1938, p. 153; Kunze 1939; Vollmer in Thieme/Becker XXXVII, 1950, p. 98; Amsterdam 1958, p. 59, no. 32; ENP V, 1969, pp. 33-34, 77, 96; Châtelet 1981, pp. 136, 138-40, 144, 227-28; Huys Janssen 1996, pp. 163-65; Horsch in Turner 1996, XX, p. 666
The painting depicts various scenes from the legend and martyrdom of St Lucy as related in the Legenda aurea by Jacobus de Voragine (d. 1298).6 The dimensions, the number of planks making up the panel, stylistic similarities with the painting from which the artist takes his name, and the Viennese provenance show that The Martyrdom of St Lucy once formed a single unit with The Deposition formerly in the collection of Albert Figdor in Vienna, which was lost during the Second World War (fig. a). The scenes originally formed the front (The Deposition) and back (The Martyrdom) of the wing of an altarpiece, of which the centre panel and the other wing are probably lost. Most authors thought that the panel was the right wing of an altarpiece with The Crucifixion as the main subject.7
It can be assumed from the composition of The Martyrdom, in which most of the figures are facing right, that it was in fact the outer left wing.8 If that was the case, The Deposition would have been the inner left wing, which means that the subject of the centre panel, whether painted or sculpted, has to be reassessed. The more likely scenario with a Deposition on the left wing is that the centre panel was a Lamentation and the right wing a Resurrection. The outer right wing could have had other scenes from the life of Lucy or another saint.
The triptych or retable may have been intended for the high altar of a church or convent dedicated to St Lucy.9 The scene and composition of The Martyrdom of St Lucy can also be associated with a chasuble of 1507 embroidered with scenes from St Lucy’s life which may have been made in Amsterdam.10 She was not a popular saint in the northern Netherlands, and there was no Luciakerk (Church of St Lucy) near Amsterdam or Haarlem, and only one convent.11 It stood on the site of what is now the Amsterdams Historisch Museum, which may have been where both the panel and the chasuble originated.
Stylistically, this painting by the Master of the Figdor Deposition can be placed between the work of Geertgen tot Sint Jans in Haarlem and of Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen in Amsterdam. The horizontal arrangement of the composition on several levels is closely related to that of one of Geertgen’s core works, The Burning of the Bones of St John the Baptist in Vienna.12 The two panels also share the manner of depicting the foliage on the trees with short horizontal brushstrokes. In addition, some of the figure types in The Martyrdom are comparable to those in paintings attributed to Geertgen. Paschasius, for example, standing behind St Lucy on the left, is related to Joachim, the figure on the far left of The Holy Kinship attributed to Geertgen (SK-A-500). The points of similarity are the shadow below the cheekbone, the fairly short distance between the bottom of the nose and the lower lip, the fine, reddish brown contour line around the whites of the eyes, and the way in which the light areas in the beard and face are rendered with delicate touches of the brush. The execution of the background figures, with reddish brown contours for the faces and hands, is considered typical of Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen.13 The ‘draughtsman-like’ manner of painting, visible in the priest’s face and elsewhere, with various passages being accentuated with painted hatchings, such as the shadow below the cheekbone and the furrows on the forehead, is close to the work of Jacob Cornelisz.
On the basis of the assumed original location of the painting, its relationship to the chasuble of 1507, and the stylistic parallels with the work of Jacob Cornelisz, such as his Crucifixion of c. 1507-10, The Martyrdom of St Lucy can be dated around the same time, c. 1505-10.
Valentiner 1914, p. 69; Friedländer V, 1927, pp. 56-57, 136, no. 27; Steinbart 1929, p. 217; Baldass 1937, p. 119; Hoogewerff II, 1937, pp. 215-17; Schretlen 1938, p. 153; Kunze 1939, p. 8; Amsterdam 1958, p. 59, no. 32; ENP V, 1969, pp. 33-34, 77, 96, no. 27; Châtelet 1981, pp. 138-39, no. 106; Defoer 1998; Kloek in Van Os et al. 2000, pp. 74-76; Leeflang in Rotterdam 2008a, pp. 192-95
1903, p. 102, no. 951 (as school of Geertgen tot Sint Jans); 1934, no. 951 (as follower of Geertgen tot Sint Jans, the so-called Master of the Figdor Deposition, c. 1500); 1960, p. 198, no. 1538 M2; 1976, p. 633, no. A 1688