Lot 116. The Master of the Female Half-lengths (Active in Antwept during the first half of the 16th century), The Magdalen, oil on panel, 15 3/4 by 10 1/2 in.; 40.3 by 26.7 cm. Estimate 180,000 — 220,000 USD. Lot sold 218,500 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Baron Alphonse de Rothschild (1827 - 1905), Paris;
Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868 - 1949), Paris;
Confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Paris (inventory R96);
Hermann Göring (acquired February 8, 1941 as Quintin Metsys, inventory RM721);
Recovered by Allied Monuments Men and returned to France September 20, 1946 (MCCP 6731);
Restituted to Baron Edouard de Rothschild;
Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild (1914 -1999), Tel Aviv;
Her deceased sale, London, Christie's, 13 December 2000, lot 23 there purchased by the present owner for £91,750.
Literature: N. Yeide, Beyond the Dreams of Avarice, Dallas, 2009, pp.111 and 328, cat. no A730, reproduced (as Quintin Metsys).
Note: The present panel is typical of much of the work of this unknown artist, who seems to have specialized in small scale paintings in a courtly style, depicting elegant women reading, writing or making music in intimate interior settings. Stylistically close to the Bruges painters such as Adriaen Isenbrandt, the Master is more typically associated with the city of Antwerp. Although a greater number of devotional, mythological and landscape paintings have been recently attributed to his hand, the Master is still most well-known for his sumptuously dressed, demure female figures.
This composition may be compared with other works by The Master of the Female Half Lengths, in which the Magdalen is depicted holding a similar ornate vase. Two such works are: a work formerly in the Schevitch collection, and subsequently sold in a Parisian auction in 1906, lot 7; and another in the collection of Prince Salm-Salm at Schloss Anholt (see M.J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. XII, 1975, p. 98, nos. 82-3, plate 41).
Sotheby's. Important Old Master Paintings & Sculpture, New York, 27 janv. 2011