Overview

Saint Clare, a wealthy woman from the central Italian town of Assisi, gave up all her possessions to pursue the goals of poverty and service preached by Saint Francis. She founded an order of nuns known as the Poor Clares, which was recognized by the Pope in 1253. This painting depicts the vision of the death of Saint Clare as experienced by one of her followers, Sister Benvenuta of Diambra.

In the vision of Saint Benvenuta, the Virgin Mary and a procession of virgin martyrs appeared to Saint Clare on her deathbed. Here Mary, dressed in a rich brocade robe, supports Saint Clare's head, while the other elegantly robed and crowned saints follow behind, identified by the tiny attributes they hold.

The work of the Master of Heiligenkreuz, who was probably active in Lower Austria, illustrates the cosmopolitan aspect of the International Style, which flourished around 1400. While his exaggerated figures with their bulbous foreheads and clinging drapery are characteristically Austrian, the anonymous painter must also have been aware of the most advanced art produced at the courts of Paris and Prague. Thus the surface of the panel is worked in a variety of different techniques to fashion a particularly splendid object.

Inscription

on left-hand page of book held by nun at lower right: Dii labia

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Possibly the Convent of the Poor Clares, Eger (Cheb), Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia), or Eger (Erlau), Hungary.[1] (Karl Schäfer, Munich); (Walter Schnackenberg, Munich), 1921/1922-1951;[2] in 1943 a one-third share was acquired from Schnackenberg by Carl Langbehn, Munich, and passed by inheritance to his mother, Marta Langbehn.[3] owned jointly by (Seiler & Co., Walter Schnackenberg, and Alfred Müller, Munich);[4] sold 1951 to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York, with Pinakos, Inc. [Rudolf Heinemann]);[5] purchased 1951 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.

Exhibition History

1926
Lent by Walter Schnackenberg to the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, in 1926.
2006
Sigismundus rex et imperator: art et culture au temps de Sigismond de Luxembourg, 1387-1437, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest; Musée national d'histoire et d'art, Luxembourg, 2006, no. 7.40, repro.

Bibliography

1907
"Meister von Heiligenkreuz." In Hans Vollmer, ed. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler ("Thieme-Becker"). 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 37(1950):144-145.
1924
Buchner, Ernst. "Eine Gruppe deutscher Tafelbilder vom Anfang des XV. Jahrhunderts." In Buchner Ernst and Karl Feuchtmayer, eds. Oberdeutsche Kunst der Spätgotik und Reform. (Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Kunst. 2 vols.) Augsburg, 1924: 1:3, fig. 2, 4-5.
1926
Baldass, Ludwig. Review of Oberdeutsche Kunst der Spätgotik und Reformationszeit by Ernst Buchner and Karl Feuchtmayr, eds. In Belvedere 9/10 (1926): 133-136.
1926
Suida, Wilhelm. Österreichs Malerei in der Zeit Erzherzog Ernst des Eisernen und König Albrecht II. Vienna, 1926: 25.
1929
Baldass, Ludwig. "Die Wiener Tafelmalerei von 1410-1460. (Neuerwerbungen des Wiener Kunsthistorischen Museums)." Der Cicerone 21 (1929): 66.
1934
Stange, Alfred. Deutsche Malerei der Gotik. 11 vols. Berlin and Munich, 1934-1961. Munich, 1961: 11:4.
1936
Oettinger, Karl. "Zur Malerei um 1400 in Österreich." Jahrbuch der Künsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien n.s. 10 (1936): 78.
1938
Ring, Grete. "Primitifs français." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 80, 6e période, tome 19 no. 895 (mars 1938): 158.
1942
Sterling, Charles. Les Peintres du Moyen Age. Paris, 1942: 15, no. 9.
1943
Larsen-Roman, Erik and Lucy Larsen-Roman. "Les Origines provençales du Maître de Heiligenkreuz." Apollo. Chronique des Beaux-Arts no. 18 (1943): 17-19.
1949
Ring, Grete. A Century of French Painting 1400-1500. London, 1949: 199, no. 59.
1954
Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York, 1954: fig. 96. (New York, 1959: fig. 96; New York, 1961: fig. 74.)
1956
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Crystal Anniversary in the Capital." Art News 55, no. 1 (March 1956): 26, repro.
1956
_Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Colllection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1951-56. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida and Fern Rusk Shapley. National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1956: 120-123, no. 46, repro.
1956
"The Kress Collection." Arts 30, no. 6 (March 1956): 48, 49, repro.
1959
_Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 299, repro.
1960
Broadley Hugh T. German Painting in the National Gallery of Art (Booklet no. 9 in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Washington, 1960: 2, 12-13, color repro.
1961
Musper, Heinrich Theodor. Gotische Malerei nördlich der Alpen. Cologne, 1961: 119, repro.
1961
Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 18, 21, [218], color fig. 16.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 50, color repro.
1963
"Austria, Bohemia, Tirol: Paintings." The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 50, no. 7 (September 1963): 201, under no. 3.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 110, repro. 111.
1965
Cooke, Hereward Lester. Galeria Nacional de Washington. Translated by Maria Teresa de la Cruz. Madrid, 1965: 216-217.
1965
_Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 85.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:100-101, color repro.
1968
Cuttler, Charles D. Northern Painting, from Pucelle to Bruegel: Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries. New York, 1968: 51.
1968
_European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 75, no. 1162, repro.
1968
Galvan, Jose Maria Moreno, ed. Galleria Nazionale di Washington. Madrid, 1968: 35, 38-39, fig. 25, 31.
1968
Gandolf, Giampaolo et al. National Gallery of Art, Washington. (Great Museums of the World.) New York, 1968: 98, 99, color repro.
1969
Steingräber, Erich. "Nachträge und Marginalien zur französisch-niederländischen Goldschmiedekunst des frühen 15. Jahrhunderts." Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums (1969): 32, 34, fig. 6.
1970
Musper, Heinrich Theodor. Altdeutsche Malerei. Cologne, 1970: 28, 92, no. 18, repro. 93.
1974
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Master of Heiligenkreuz, ca. 1400." The Cleveland Museum of Art. European Paintings Before 1500. Catalogue of Paintings: Part One. Cleveland, 1974: 4-5, repro.
1975
Cinotti, Mia, ed. The National Gallery of Art of Washington and Its Paintings. Great Galleries of the World. Edinburgh, 1975: no. 92, repro.
1975
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 222, repro. 223.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 147, no. 154, repro. 146.
1977
Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 232-236, figs. 225-226.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 51-52, pl. 33.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 5, repro. 3.
1985
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 254, repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 56, repro.
1992
Ströter-Bender, Jutta. Die Muttergottes: Das Marienbild in der christlichen Kunst, Symbolik und Spiritualität. (DuMont Taschenbücher 282) Cologne, 1992: 132-133, fig. 39.
1993
Hand, John Oliver, with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1993: 127-132, color repro. 129.
1995
Löcher, Kurt. "Rezensionen." Review of German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries, by John Oliver Hand with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. Kunstchronik 43 no. 1 (January 1995): 18.
1996
Donahue, M. Patricia. Nursing, The Finest Art: An Illustrated History. St Louis, 1996: 128-129, repro.
1998
Oberhaidacher, Jörg. “Zur kunstgeschichtlichen Herkunft und Bedeutung des Meisters von Heiligenkreuz.” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Kunst und Denkmalpflege 52 (1998): 501, 510, 514, fig. 533.
1999
Barnay, Sylvie. Le ciel sur la terre: Les apparitions de la Viere au Moyen Age. Paris, 1999: 115, color repro.
1999
Oberhaidacher, Jörg. “Zur Datierung der Güssiger Maria-gravida-Tafel in der Ungarischen Nationalgalerie in Budapest.” Pantheon ser. 2, 57 (1999): 59-60, fig. 7.
1999
Southgate, M. Therese. "The Cover." JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 282, no. 19 (November 17, 1999): cover, 1,798, color repro.
2001
Pernod, Régine. La Femme au temps des Cathédrales. Paris, 2001: 38-39, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 60-61, no. 46, color repro.

Technical Summary

\r
[1] The identification of the wood as fir (sp. Abies) was made by the National Gallery's scientific research department.
[2] An x-radiograph made prior to cradling is in the National Gallery's conservation department.
\r[3] The examination was conducted 7-8 April 1988 by the author and by Paula DeCristofaro, formerly associate conservator for the Systematic Catalogue, with Bruce F. Miller, conservator of paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I am most grateful to Mr. Miller and his staff for their assistance in making the painting available to us.

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