National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Rule of Bacchus [left panel] Workshop of Albrecht Altdorfer
Anonymous Artist (painter)
Albrecht Altdorfer (related artist)
German, 1480 or before - 1538
The Rule of Bacchus [left panel], c. 1535
oil on hardboard transferred from panel
left panel: 39 x 15.9 cm (15 3/8 x 6 1/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1952.5.31.a
Not on View
From the Tour: German Painting and Sculpture in the Late 1400s and 1500s
Object 1 of 12

Conservation Notes

The x-radiograph indicates a long check near the top of the left-hand corner. A small length of barbe is visible at the right edge; this is the only edge that is clearly original, but there are no strong compositional indications that the panels have been significantly altered. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals underdrawing in what appears to be a liquid medium. There are numerous small losses throughout, most apparent in the area of the inscription, and also an extensive raised crackle.

The present arrangement of these panels is not the original one. Although they were probably a triptych, the original center panel is no longer extant, and the present center panel once existed as two separate images on the reverse of the wings. Adam was on the reverse of The Rule of Bacchus and Eve was on the reverse of The Rule of Mars. The work existed as a diptych from 1891 on, and photographs from the 1930s and 1940s indicate that the two panels were joined so that while the Adam and Eve panels faced each other correctly, the Bacchus and Mars panels were consequently incorrectly oriented.[1] Around 1950 the panels[2] were thinned to a veneer and marouflaged to hardboard that was subsequently veneered; it is assumed that at this time the fronts and backs were separated and the backs joined together to form a single image of The Fall of Man.[3]


[1] Friedländer 1891, 56, no. 27; for reproductions of the panels prior to their separation see Benesch 1930, 84-185, figs. 5-6.
[2] The original support was reported to be linden in Benesch 1939, 48, and in Eisler 1977, 33, but it has not been possible to confirm this through direct examination.
[3] Kress Condition and Restoration Record in NGA curatorial files indicates that the work was done prior to acquisition by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Eisler 1977, 33, states that the panels were treated by William Suhr around 1950.

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