UNKNOWN MASTER, German
(active in 1415-1430 in Cologne)
Oil on oak panel, 23,2 x 15,9 cm
The Man of Sorrows in the arms of God the Father with the Holy Ghost between them both is a kind of Seat of Mercy or more exactly a Trinity Pietà. The type is met with frequently in French and Burgundian court painting from the end of the fourteenth century onwards. One of the best known and earliest preserved examples is the tondo by Jean Malouel in the Louvre. Both in the common Man of Sorrows type and in the Trinity Pietà, angels are often supporting Christ's body on both sides or carrying instruments of the Passion. The small Cologne work is part of this tradition. The Man of Sorrows is flanked by four angels, with two of them holding the Flagellation column, the scourge, the stick with the sponge and the lance. This type clearly forms the basis of the Man of Sorrows borne by an angel by Master Francke which in turn led to the Virgin showing Man of Sorrows by Memling (Melbourne). The reverse features a Holy Face of Christ.
The panel is attributed to the Master of Sankt Laurenz (St Lawrence), the pupil of the Cologne Master of St Veronica. It is also assumed that this small panel was the left wing of a diptych having, on the right, a Mater Dolorosa.