National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Saint Anne with the Virgin and the Christ Child Master of Frankfurt (artist)
Netherlandish, c. 1460 - active 1520s
Saint Anne with the Virgin and the Christ Child, c. 1511/1515
oil on panel
painted surface: 72.5 x 56.7 cm (28 9/16 x 22 5/16 in.) overall (panel): 73.5 x 57.5 cm (28 15/16 x 22 5/8 in.) framed: 84.5 x 70.5 x 6.4 cm (33 1/4 x 27 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney K. Lafoon
1976.67.1
On View
From the Tour: The Netherlands and France in the 1500s
Object 2 of 8

In this altarpiece panel, the Virgin and her mother, Saint Anne, flank the infant Jesus. Images with Saint Anne became common in the fifteenth century as her popularity grew, and this arrangement is one of the two principal ways in which she was shown. The figure of God the Father appears in a gold ground above the baby’s head, and the dove of the holy spirit hovers between them. The composition links the trinity—the father, the son, and the holy ghost—with the triad of mother, Mary, and child. The visual parallel enhances Anne’s status and underlines Christ’s dual nature as both human and divine. (A larger Saint Anne panel by Gerard David and workshop, illustrates the other typical representation; there she is seated frontally, as if enthroned, with the Virgin and Child on her lap.)

The identity of the Master of Frankfurt remains undocumented. In his case the designation given him by modern scholars is misleading since it is now clear that he was not German but Netherlandish, probably working in Antwerp. Although we are not certain of his name we do have his fingerprints. He used his fingers to smudge the paint in the clouds, giving them extra texture. Another interesting aspect of his technique is his apparent use of a stencil to create the pattern in Saint Anne’s red cloak. Notice how the design is uninterrupted across the folds of cloth.

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