We are grateful to Dr. Dieter Koepplin for noting that this is almost certainly the missing companion to the Saint John the Baptist sold, Neumeister, Munich, 14 September 1988, lot 465, as Lucas Cranach I. That work was accompanied by a certificate from Ernst Buchner, dated 1957, endorsing the attribution and dating the picture to circa 1515. Prior to that, it had appeared at auction from the Jäger collection, Lepke, Berlin, 21 October 1902 (recorded in M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London, 1978, p. 92, no. 110c, as datable to c. 1518-20), as measuring 76 x 30 cm., seeming from its illustration to have an analogous addition to the left hand side as the present picture does to the right.
Dr. Koepplin notes that both works have the same character and quality, sharing many stylistic elements, including the base terrain and the radiating nimbus-like halos. The two paintings were presumably originally opposing wings of an altarpiece, in much the same arrangement as compositionally related Saint John the Evangelist on the outer face of the wing of the Feilitzsch Altarpiece. In the latter, discussed by Friedländer and Rosenberg, op. cit., p. 77, no. 39, the central panel and left interior shutter are by Cranach himself, whilst the right interior and exterior shutters are painted with workshop participation. The compositions of both Evangelists would appear to be taken from a print by Cranach - that in the Feilitzsch composition following the same direction as the print, the present painting being in reverse.
This painting formerly belonged to Johann Peter Weyer, the former architect-general of Cologne. Weyer's collection was the largest in the city after that of Canon Walraff, and its dispersal in 1862 was seen as one of the largest losses to the region in the nineteenth century. The collection was particularly famous for its northern sixteenth-century paintings including works by, amongst others, Hans Memling (The Virgin and Child with Saint George and a Donor; London, National Gallery), Quentin Massys, Gerard David, the Master of 1518 (The Marriage of the Virgin; Saint Louis, Missouri, Art Museum), the Housebook Master, the Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altar, the Master of Saint Veronica (Saint Veronica with the Sudarium; London, National Gallery), Hans Holbein I, Bartel Bruyn and Ludger tom Ring II. We are very grateful to Mr. Ludwig Meyer for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.