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English 14th or 15th Century
Saint George and the Dragon

alabaster, painted and gilded
81.5 x 60.5 x 20.5 cm (32 1/16 x 23 13/16 x 8 1/16 in)
Church of the Dominican convent of San Juan, Quejana (province of Alava, Spain), before c. 1730; tomb chapel of the Ayala family (tower chapel of La Virgen del Cabello), convent of San Juan, Quejana, c. 1730-after 1880. [1] Benoit Oppenheim [1842-1931], Berlin, before 1911-1920 or after; [2] Lionel Harris [d. 1943], Spanish Art Gallery, London, in or before 1925. [3] (Goldschmidt Galleries, New York); [4] sold 1925 to Otto H. Kahn [1867-1934], New York; [5] Mrs. Otto H. Kahn [d. 1949], New York; [6] Mogmar Art Foundation, New York, by 1940; [7] (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris), by 1942; [8] purchased 1944 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [9] gift 1953 to NGA. [1] See Micaela J. Portilla, Quejana, solar de los Ayala, Vitoria, 1983: 33, 47, 49-51, for the position in the church and transfer to the chapel. The Saint George, then in the tomb chapel, was described by Ricardo Becerro de Bengoa, "Descripciones de Alava," c. 1880: "En las paredes immediatas se ven los sepolcros murales, con estatuas yacentes, de Hernán Pérez, hijo de Pero López, y de su mujer D.a Eloisa de Cevallos, cuyas pobres esculturas no alcanzan, ni con mucho, a la importancia de las sus padres...En el lucillo de D.a Eloisa han arrinconado una bella imagen de alabastro de San Jorge, de curioso mérito, por su antigüedad y detalles" (partially published as "Panteon del Canciller Don Pero López de Ayala en Quejana (Alava)," BSEE 24 [1916]: 166; also published in Revista Ateneo [Vitoria], [1918]: 7). That the present sculpture is the one in question is confirmed in Benoit Oppenheim, Originalwerke in Holz, Stein, Elfenbein usw. aus der Sammlung Benoit Oppenheim, Berlin, Supplementary volume, Leipzig, 1911: no. 136, pl. 79, with the statement that the statue once stood "in a church in Quejana, Bilbao Province, Spain, in which are tombs of the Alba." [2] Oppenheim 1911, no. 136. Eugen Lüthgen, Die Abendländische Kunst des 15. Jahrhunderts, Bonn, 1920: 51-52, published the work as still in the Oppenheim collection. Micaela Portilla, undated letter to Pamela Patton, received 13 January 1987, in the NGA curatorial files, noted that various works of art from the region of Quejana were sold between 1905 and 1907. The altarpiece now in Chicago was not sold until 1913. [3] Philip Nelson, "Some Undescribed English Alabaster Carvings," Archeological Journal 83 (1926): 44, mentions the relief as "illustrated by courtesy of the late owner, Mr. Lionel Harris." [4] A photo caption in ArtNews 24 (26 December 1925): 8 describes the work as recently sold to Otto Kahn. [5] Alfred M. Frankfurter, "A Tribute to Otto H. Kahn as Art Collector," Art News 32 (7 April 1934): 10. [6] Sir Eric Maclagan of the Victoria and Albert Museum to Mrs. Kahn, 18 May 1938, transcribed in Duveen brochure, in NGA curatorial files. [7] The Mogmar Art Foundation, established by the Kahn estate, was listed as the lender in Arts of the Middle Ages 1000-1400; a Loan Exhibition, exh. cat., Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1940: no. 192, pl. LVIII. [8] George Swarenski to Edward Fowles of Duveen Brothers, letter of 9 May 1942, copy in NGA curatorial files. [9] Kress 1945, 174.
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