Albrecht Drer mentions the birth of his youngest brother, Hans in his family history on February 21, 1490. Hans was cared for by Albrecht after their father's death in 1502, and moved into his older brother's home. During Albrecht's trip to Venice, he sent letters to Pirckheimer asking him to care for his younger brother and arranged that he should work with Michael Wohlgemut until he returned from Italy. Hans is known to have assisted with some of Albrecht's commissions and it is recorded that he received 2 florins for his work on the retable commissioned in 1503 by Joseph Heller, completed in 1509. Upon Albrecht's death in 1528, Hans inherited his large estate and in 1535 is mentioned with the title 'Pictor Regie Majestatis' in the records of Wavel Castle in Cracow, Poland.
The present paintings of Saint Christopher and Saint George are the wings of an altarpiece for which the central panel of The Lamentation is most likely that now in the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (Fig. 1; sold, Sotheby's, London, Dec. 8, 1993, lot 74 for 210,000=$312,900). That panel bears the Drer monogram which, while possibly added at a slightly later date, clearly points to Albrecht Drer as the principal source of inspiration for these paintings' execution, although others have noted comparisons with the work of Drer's pupil, Hans Baldung Grien and the Saxon Court painter, Lucas Cranach I. While the influence of Albrecht cannot be denied, it is upon comparison with the signed and dated painting by Hans Drer in the Jacobite Church in Nysa, Poland that the attribution for the present lot has been suggested. The composition of the Virgin and Child in the Nysa altarpiece is based on an engraving by Albrecht Drer (Bartsch 32) dated to 1516 and resembles his style particularly in the facial features of Saints George, Pantaleon and Eustache, while the painterly interpretation of the linear design, including the highly decorated gowns, suggests Hans' own style. Another altarpiece by Hans Drer of Christ carrying the Cross, (signed and dated 1522), formerly in the Cathedral, Breslau, and now in the Nationalmuseum, Warsaw, is also based on Albrecht Drer's woodcut from the large Passion series.
The depiction in the central Lamentation (Fig. 1; the National Galleries of Scotland) of the family members of Margrave Kasimir Friedrich around a small covered coffin suggests that this altarpiece may have been commissioned to commemorate his death in 1527. Among his family and peers can be identified kneeling by the coffin, the son of the deceased, Margraf Albrecht Alcibiades, aged five-and-a-half years old; and on his right, standing with a full beard, his uncle and guardian Margraf George the Pious (1483-1543) (both wearing the Order of the Swan). To their left, with a white beard, is the Margraf Friedrich the Elder, aged sixty-seven, who had spent the last twelve years in prison. Behind them we can identify, in the middle, Chancellor George Vogler (1486-1550), holding the margraf Brandenburg sword, Johann Freiherr von Schwarzenberg (1463-1528), whose death in 1528 results in a terminus ante quem for the panels, and Margraf Friedrich von Brandenburg the Younger (1497-1536).
The figure of Saint George in the present lot shows close similarities to Albrecht's depiction of the saint in his Paumgartner altarpiece (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), particularly in the posture of the saint and the position of the fallen dragon. Saint Christopher may have been depicted as the patron saint of travelers since Margrave Kasimir Friedrich died while traveling in Hungary. All of the above would seem to indicate clearly that the Edinburgh Lamentation and the present wings had to have been executed after the death of Kasimir in Budapest on Sept. 21, 1527, and before Oct. 21, 1528, when Kasimir's body was sent from Hungary to its final resting place at the abbey of Heilbronn, Ansbach. Thus, the abbot of the abbey could have commissioned the altarpiece, which would likely explain the depiction of the new ruler, Georg as Saint George in one of the wings of the altarpiece.
Albrecht Drer's influence can also found in the altarpiece by Hans Schufelin in the Georgskirche, Nordlingen, dated 1521, which also bears direct comparison with the present lot and the Edinburgh panel in its construction and fixed placement of the wings. The paintings represented on the verso of the present lot represent Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara and are by a different, earlier hand than the paintings on the recto. As Saint Catherine is dated 1517, they appear to have been originally part of another, larger altarpiece and executed approximately ten years prior to the paintings on the recto of Saints Christopher and George. It would appear that the panels were cut in order to match the height of the central Lamentation: Saint Catherine was reduced at the lower edge, and Saint Barbara at the top. This, in addition to the fact that the wings would have fallen short of covering the entire central panel by approximately 6in. (17cm.), suggests that the panels, like those of Schufelin's altarpiece, would have been attached flat to the supporting wall rather than hinged to the central panel. The truncated images of the female saints would therefore have been hidden from view. Furthermore, if intended to be movable wings, there would have been prominently displayed coats-of-arms of the Brandenburg and Ansbach families on the verso of both of the present panels, as was customary.
We are grateful to Dr. Ludwig Meyer for his assistance with this catalogue entry.