The present work is by an unidentified Cologne master from the workshop of Stefan Lochner and the Veronica Master. Perhaps best known today for a large altarpiece - now dispersed - showing scenes from the Life of Christ, the artist was named after an altarpiece painted for the Cistercian Abbey church at Heisterbach, in the Siebengebirge region south of Cologne. Although some historians believe the altarpiece to be the work of a single master (A. Stange, Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer, 1967, I, pp. 46ff), it has been suggested that the dispersed work, which is cohesive in style, may be the product of different hands (D.R. Täube, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Stefan Lochner, Meister zu Köln, Cologne, 1993, p. 344, no. 55). The polyptych consisted of about twenty-eight panels, parts of which can today be seen in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, the Gemäldegalerie, Wiesbaden and the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn. One of the central panels, The Crucifixion, was offered at Sotheby's, London, 6 July 1994, lot 13.
The inclusion of various hands on a single major work conforms with workshop practice of the time, but makes the clear attribution of works to artists within a group complex. In Die Kölner Malerschule, Heribert Reiners notes the closeness of style within this group (1925, pp. 95 and 309, note 85). He suggests an attribution of the Sotheby's painting, the present lot, and a Flagellation of Christ, also formerly in the Wallraf-Richartz museum, Cologne, and now in the collection of Heintz Kisters (D. Taübe, op. cit., p. 349, no. 56b) to an unknown master known as the Master of the Passion Scenes. All three paintings are fully accepted as being by the Master of the Heisterbach Altarpiece by Taübe. She notes that the Flagellation and the Resurrection panels, and two other panels by Cologne artists active in his workshop (The Adoration of the Magi; Rheinesches Landesmuseum Bonn, Inv. no. 51.160; and The Pentecost; Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Inv. no. WRM 80), may have formed part of an altarpiece of scenes from the Passion executed around 1450 (ibid., pp. 348-351).