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French 14th Century
Virgin and Child

c. 1325/1350
100.8 x 31.2 x 17.8 cm (39 11/16 x 12 5/16 x 7 in)
Reportedly from the chapel of the Château de Sassangy, Saône-et-Loire. Reportedly Dr. Simon Meller, former curator of sculpture, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum [Museum of Fine Arts], Budapest, possibly in his Munich house before 1934, or at an unknown date in Paris; [1] Dr. Jacob Hirsch, New York, by 1935; (Jacques Seligmann et Cie, New York); [2] purchased 1957 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1961 to NGA. [1] The references to the sculpture's provenance from the chapel of the Château de Sassangy and Simon Meller's Paris collection are in an undated text presumably provided either by Seligmann or the Kress Foundation, in NGA curatorial files. On the Château de Sassangy, its owners and construction phases since the fifteenth century, see Françoise Vignier, Bourgogne, Nivernais (Dictionnaire des château de France, ed. Yvan Christ, vol. 9) (Paris, 1980), 285. In the nineteenth century the château belonged to the La Roche La Carelle family, at least one of whose members was reputedly a great collector of works of art. No inventories or sale records for their collection are known to survive. This information was supplied by the Service Régional de l'Inventaire Général des Monuments et des Richesses Artistiques de la France en Bourgogne, letter to Alison Luchs, 18 December 1986, in NGA curatorial files. The reference to Meller's Munich house is inscribed on a photograph in the possession of William Forsyth, curator emeritus of medieval art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, bearing a date 1935 and inscribed "New York, Hirsch Collection." In a letter to Alison Luchs, 14 February 1986, Prof. Willibald Sauerländer of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, reported that Meller had come to Munich after 1920 and emigrated in 1934, and that Professor Theodor Müller, who had visited his home there, did not recall seeing the marble Madonna there or elsewhere in Munich. Anthony Geber has pointed out that a limestone Virgin and Child with a jewel-encrusted crown, strikingly similar to the marble example now in Washington, once belonged to Meller. Conceivably the source that placed the Washington sculpture in Meller's house had confused the two. For the limestone Virgin and Child see Régi Egyházmüvészet Országos Kiállítása [Ausstellung Alter Kirchlicher Kunst], exh. cat., Országos Magyar Iparmüvészeti Muzeum, (Budapest, 1930), no. 5, pl. 2. This work at the time belonged to Baron Móric Kornfeld. Notes of c. 1952-1962 by Anthony Geber's father (typescript copy in NGA curatorial files), Antal Geber, on the Kornfeld collection indicate this sculpture was "from Meller, but returned." [2] Raphael Stora was also "involved in the sale" to Seligmann (letter, Perry Cott to Mme Georges Bouchot Saupique, 9 October 1964, in NGA curatorial files).
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