Overview

The anonymous master who painted this work was the leading painter in Cologne shortly after 1400. His name derives from his finest work, Saint Veronica with the Sudarium, preserved in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. In this Crucifixion the attenuated boneless figures, the sinuous contours of the drapery folds, and the delicate colors set off against the gold ground are all hallmarks of the International Gothic style. The subject is Christ's suffering and death on the cross and the grief of the weeping Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist; yet, the sorrow of the event is softened by the figures' gentle expressions. Even the tiny angels who catch the blood flowing from Christ's wounds add a decorative and fanciful touch.

The painting was probably used as a focus for prayers and meditation by a Carthusian monk, since a member of that monastic order is shown kneeling at the right of the cross. The painting's small size would make it suitable for such use, probably in the monk's cell.

Cologne was the largest and most densely populated city in Germany at the end of the Middle Ages. It supported a wealthy middle class and many religious institutions, including the Charterhouse of Saint Barbara, for which this Crucifixion may have been painted.

Inscription

at top of cross: I.N.R.I.; in Mary's halo: (possibly) salv [illegible] m[?]ar[?]ia:m[?]a; in Christ's halo: [illegible]; in John's halo: :s:Joha[illegible]:evia[illegible]

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Possibly the Carthusian monastery of Saint Barbara, Cologne.[1] Richard von Schnitzler [1855-1938], Cologne, by 1917 until at least 1931.[2] (M. Knoedler & Co., New York, owned with Pinakos, Inc. [Rudolf Heinemann]), by 1953;[3] purchased 1954 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1961 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1922
Alte Malerei aus kölnischem Privatbeitz, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 1922, no. 60, as by Follower of Meister Wilhelm.
1961
Der Meister des Bartholomäus-Altares, der Meister des Aachener Altares. Kölner Maler der Spätgotik, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 1961, unnumbered, unpaginated catalogue insert.
2011
Glanz und Grösse des Mittelalters - Kölner Meisterwerke aus den grossen Sammlungen der Welt, Museum Schnütgen, Cologne, 2011- 2012, no. 202, repro.

Bibliography

1907
Vollmer, Hans, ed. "Wynrich (Winrich), Hermann, Maler von Wesel." In Thieme-Becker. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 36(1947):333, 37(1950):344.
1917
Bombe, Walter. "Die Sammlung Dr. Richard von Schnitzler in Cöln." Der Cicerone 9 (1917): 366, repro. 362.
1920
Lüthgen, Eugen. Die abendländische Kunst des 15. Jahrhunderts. Bonn and Leipzig, 1920: 55-57, pl. 29.
1921
Lüthgen, Eugen. Rheinische Kunst des Mittelalters aus kölner Privatbesitz. Bonn and Leipzig, 1921: 97, pl. 63.
1922
Förster, Otto Helmut. "Köln." Der Cicerone 14 (1922): 984.
1923
Förster, Otto Helmut. Die Kölnische Malerei. Von Meister Wilhelm bis Stephan Lochner. Cologne, 1923: 41, frontispiece.
1931
Förster, Otto Helmut. Die Sammlung Dr. Richard von Schnitzler. Munich, 1931: 21, no. 1, pl. 1.
1934
Stange, Alfred. Deutsche Malerei der Gotik. 11 vols. Berlin and Munich, 1934-1961. Berlin, 1938: 3:58, fig. 63.
1935
Schweitzer, Klaus-Heinrich. Der Veronikameister und sein Kreis. Studien zur kölnischen Kunst um 1400. Würzburg, 1935: 70-71.
1950
Pieper, Paul. "Die `Notgottes' in Landesmuseum Münster." Westfalen 28 (1950): 190-191.
1956
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Crystal Anniversary in the Capital." Art News 55 (March 1956): 35.
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: 126, no. 48, repro.
1957
Förster, Otto Helmut. "Um den Meister der Veronika." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 19 (1957): 245.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 298, 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, 14-15, color repro.
1961
Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 18, 218, fig. 15.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 304, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 87
1965
Oldemeyer, Gertrude. "Die Darstellung des gekreuzigten Christus in der Kunst des `Weichen Stils'." Ph.D. diss., Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg in Breisgau. Aachen, 1965: 252.
1967
Stange, Alfred. Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer. 3 vols. Munich, 1967: 1:24, no. 35.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 76, repro.
1968
Pieper, Paul. "Veronika--Meister der hl. Veronika." Festschrift für Gert von der Osten. Cologne, 1968: 95.
1974
Wallrath, Rolf, ed. Vor Stefan Lochner: Die Kölner Maler von 1300 bis 1430. Exh. cat. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 1974: 38-39, 84-85, 87, repro. 38.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 226, repro. 227.
1977
Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 1-2, fig. 1.
1978
Zehnder, Frank Gütner. "Der kleine Kalvarienberg." In Die Parler und der schöne Stil 1350-1400. Exh. cat. Kunsthalle, Cologne, 1978: 210.
1981
Zehnder, Frank Günter. "Der Meister der Hl. Veronika." Ph.D. diss., Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn. Sankt Augustin, 1981: 86-95, (Katalog) 52, (Katalog) 54-56, no. 8, pls. 49-51, 53.
1984
"Meister der heiligen Veronika." In Lexikon der Kunst. 5 vols. Berlin, 1984: 3:251.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: no. 149, repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 259, repro.
1986
Budde, Rainer. Köln und seine Maler 1300-1500. Cologne, 1986: 42, 209, no. 23, fig. 27.
1986
Pieper, Paul. Die deutschen, niederländischen und italienischen Tafelbilder bis um 1530. (Bestandskatalogue, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Münster, edited by Klaus Bussmann.) Münster, 1986: 405.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 57, repro.
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: 141-145, color repro. 143.
2000
Corley, Brigitte. Painting and Patronage in Cologne, 1300-1500.) Turnhout, 2000: 80, 93, 96, 98, 108, fig. 48, 50.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 62-63, no. 47, color repro.
2012
Kemperdick, Stephan. "From Master Wilhelm to Master Wilhelm: The Identity of the Cologne Master of St Veronica." The Burlington Magazine 154 (February 2012): 89, 90, color fig. 2.

Conservation Notes

The picture and its engaged frame are composed of a single piece of vertically grained wood; the frame is 2.3 cm thick, and the design area is approximately 1.3 cm thick. Dendrochronological examination by Peter Klein suggests a felling date of 1398 +6/-4. Gold leaf over red bole covers both the frame and the background. Delicate punch work is used throughout the areas of gold leaf; small dots and circles decorate the frame, while the clouds, the angels' wings, and the outlines of the chalices are created out of tiny dots. Larger punched dots were used to create the halos and the lettering within them. Fine, shallow incised contours outline the figures. There is some overlapping of the major figures and the gold leaf, visible at the top of the Virgin's head, in the monk's left eye, and in areas of loss. The angels and Longinus' spear are painted over the gold. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals a small amount of underdrawing in the torso of Christ.

The panel is in good condition. The right half of the face of the bottom edge was damaged and has been reconstructed and regilded. In some areas of paint there is moderate abrasion, and tiny flake losses exist in paint over gold leaf. Damage and regilding in the halos greatly reduce the legibility of the inscriptions. A small amount of regilding occurs above the monk's head and above John's halo.

The reverse of the panel is covered with a layer of white ground, which is in turn covered with a thin, red, bolelike paint; both are possibly original.

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