The theme of this painting is unusual in early German Renaissance art, as it combines two scenes from Christ's Passion, The Deposition and The Entombment, set into a continuous landscape rather than divided into separate fields. The haloes, made of concentric circles in pastiglia, are typical of Cologne painters in the second half of the 15th century and stylistically the work can be associated with a group of paintings assigned to the Master of the Legend of St. George. This anonymous artist was active in Cologne. His name is taken from the St. George altarpiece, a large polyptych donated by Peter Kannegiesser (d. 1473) to the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne. The corpus of works assigned to this master, however, like so many gathered in the literature on the Cologne painters of this period, is rather large and at times stylistically heterogeneous, and as such remains to be resolved by future scholarship. Within the present oeuvre of the St. George Master, the so-called Saynscher Altar in the Cathedral Treasury of Aachen of c. 1460 is perhaps closest to our panel. In both paintings, the artist populates his scenes with similarly elongated figures set against sweeping, hilled landscapes. As in many works by the Master of the Legend of St. George, the present painting is also indebted to the compositions of Rogier van der Weyden. Yet the particularly moving figure of Mary Magdalen, who is seen from behind as she kneels at Christ’s tomb, looks back to an artist from the previous generation, Robert Campin. Similar repoussoir figures may be seen in the Seilern Triptych of c. 1425 (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London).
We are grateful to Stephan Kemperdick for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.