The Getty Museum Purchases a 16th century German Sculpture

Master of the Harburger Altar
Saint John the Baptist, circa 1515
Partially polychrome limewood - H. 152 cm
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : Sotheby’s

9/12/11 - Acquisition - Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum - A few days after announcing it had purchased a portrait by Manet (see news item of 3/12/11), the Getty Museum has acquired a remarkable German sculpture from the early 16th century, in limewood, representing Saint John the Baptist (ill.) at a Sotheby’s auction in London, for 313,250 pounds (including charges).

The work of almost actual life-size, still shows some of the original colors. The virtuosity of its style strongly recalls the work of Veit Stoss, the famous German sculptor active in Nuremberg and Cracow. In an article published in 1996, Albrecht Miller had linked this Saint John the Baptist to two other statues (a Virgin with Child and a Saint Michael) probably from a sculpted altarpiece which was in the chapel at the Harburg palace, thus creating the name of Master of the Harburger Altar [1]

Just a few months ago, this sculpture was still at the Württembergisches Museum in Stuttgart which had acquired it at auction in 1985. It had been sold in 1937 after its owner, Jacob Oppenheimer, fled the Nazi persecutions of 1933. The government of Bade-Wurtemberg returned it to his heirs in 2011.

French version

Didier Rykner, vendredi 9 décembre 2011


[1] This information is taken from the Sotheby’s auction catalogue.

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