• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 7782

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours Evening Sale

    8 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 2

    The Master of the Female Half-Lengths (Active Antwerp? 1st half 16th century)

    A lady playing a lute in an interior

    Price Realised  


    The Master of the Female Half-Lengths (Active Antwerp? 1st half 16th century)
    A lady playing a lute in an interior
    oil on panel
    21½ x 16½ in. (54.7 x 42 cm.)

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    Pronounced by Friedländer to be by one of the most successful and popular artists working in Antwerp in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, the group of works traditionally given to the Master of the Female Half-Lengths are now perceived to be in large part the product of a workshop, specializing particularly in half-length depictions of the Magdalene and elegantly dressed young ladies. They are shown reading, writing or playing musical instruments, usually in a wood-panelled interior or against a neutral background; some of the women, as in this, are represented with an ointment jar, the attribute of the Magdalene. The workshop also produced a group of landscapes that clearly show the influence of Joachim Patinir, with whose work they were for a long time confused.

    This composition is closely comparable with two smaller works in which the figure recurs in the same pose: panels in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin (see M.J. Friedländer, op. cit., nos. 98 and 103, pl. 44). The costume of the sitter and the articulation of the backgrounds vary in all three treatments and in this case the right side is enriched by the inclusion of books, a porcelain jar and a candle in a recess. Their presence, combined with the ointment jar and the musical theme, serve to emphasize the underlying vanitas meaning of the subject - the transience of earthly pleasures and beauty.

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    (Probably) Art market Berlin, 1931.
    with Robert Finck, Brussels, from whom acquired by the father of the present owner in 1984.

    Pre-Lot Text

    The Property of a European Private Collection (Lots 1 & 2)


    (Probably) M.J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, XII, Leiden, 1975, p. 100, no. 100, 'The Magdalene playing the lute, in half-length' (54 x 42 cm.).