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Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altar
The Baptism of Christ

c. 1485/1500
oil on panel
painted surface: 104.3 x 169.7 cm (41 1/16 x 66 13/16 in)
Possibly a church in Arnhem. [1] Count Jacques de Bryas, Paris; (sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 6 February 1905, no. 20); (Galerie F. Kleinberger, Paris). [2] Richard von Kaufmann [1849-1908], Berlin; (his sale, Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing, Berlin, 4 December 1917, no. 132); possibly purchased by (Paul Graupe, Berlin)[3] for Otto Henkell [1869-1929], Wiesbaden. (Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York); purchased February 1955 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1961 to NGA. [1] Unfortunately, we know nothing about the commission or the original location of the panel. Based on a note affixed to the back of the picture, the painting is traditionally thought to have been in a church in Arnhem, in the Gelderland region of the Netherlands. Colin Eisler's assertion that the painting may have been done for the high altar of the Sint Janskerk in Arnhem, is possible, but awaits confirming evidence. (Eisler 1977, 9, where he also suggests that the commission may have been given to Johan van Hatstein, Commander of the Order of Saint John from 1486 to 1497.) The Sint Janskerk was demolished in 1817 and the first mention of the painting in connection with the "cathédrale" in Arnhem occurs in 1905: Catalogue des Tableaux Anciens ... Provenant de la Collection de M. le Comte Jacques de Bryas, Hôtel Drouot (Paris, 1905), 11, "Cette oeuvre du plus grand caractère, et dans le plus admirable état de conservation, provient de la cathédrale d'Aarnheim, édifice gothique qui fut au XVIIe siècle désaffecté du culte catholique." Friedländer in the sales catalogue Die Sammlung Richard von Kaufmann Berlin, Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing (Berlin, 1917), no. 132, cites a "Notiz auf der Rückseite" as the basis for the Arnhem provenance. This notice was never described and had disappeared by 1941, as per Karl vom Rath, Der Meister des Bartholomäusaltares. (Bonn, 1941), 125, no. 9. [2] Handwritten note in the margin of the copy of the catalogue in the NGA library. [3] Handwritten note in vol. 2 of the catalogue in the NGA library.
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