Catalogue of the Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1911 [under Addenda to the 1905 Catalogue, January–February 1908, unpaginated], as by "Antonis Mor (?)," lent by J. Pierpont Morgan.
"The Pierpont Morgan Gift." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (January 1918), p. 17, as by Ludger tom Ring.
Karl Hölker. Die Malerfamilie tom Ring [Beiträge zur Westfälischen Kunstgeschichte, Heft 8]. Münster, 1927, pp. 49, 86, no. 90, pls. XXIV–XXV, attributes it to Ludger tom Ring the Younger.
Max Geisberg in Westfälische Lebensbilder. 2, 1931, p. 48, attributes it to Ludger tom Ring the Younger.
Karl Hölker in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 28, Leipzig, 1934, p. 364, as by Ludger tom Ring the Younger.
Charles L. Kuhn. A Catalogue of German Paintings of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in American Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1936, p. 34, no. 73, attributes it to Ludger tom Ring and dates it about 1575.
Emil Waldmann. "Deutsche Kunst in amerikanischen Museen." Der Türmer: Deutsche Monatshefte 39 (January 1937), p. 300, ill. p. 297, states that the city reflected in the orb is Soest.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 229–31, ill., describe this altarpiece as "one of the rare religious paintings by the younger Ludger tom Ring" and note that "In the close proximity of the very human figures to Christ it demonstrates one of the chief tenets of Protestantism, the easy and direct approach of man to God"; add that the chief families of Münster (home to the Ring family of painters) were loyal Catholics and suggest the family portrayed here were rich burghers in Protestant Brunswick; observe that the ages of the sitters are provided, but their names are not, perhaps an indication that the triptych was installed in a chapel known by the family name; identify the man on the left wing as the donor, with his wife on the right, and his parents and unmarried siblings on the central panel; state that the city reflected in Christ's orb cannot be identified with a particular place.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 1, p. 413, no. 1104–6, ill.
Kjell Boström. "De oorspronkelijke Bestemming van Ludger tom Rings Stillevens." Oud-Holland 67 (1952), p. 54, suggests that the flowers on the table symbolize almighty God.
Paul Pieper. "Diskussion zum Vortrag Zimmermann [comments on the paper delivered by Heinrich Zimmermann, see Ref. Zimmermann 1954]." Kunstchronik 7, no. 10 (1954), p. 290, suggests that our triptych, in addition to the Celle wings [both traditionally ascribed to Ludger tom Ring the Younger], might be given to Peter Spitzer.
Heinrich Zimmermann. "Vorträge am 31. Juli 1954, Heinrich Zimmermann (Berlin): Peter Spitzer [this issue is devoted to the "Fünfter deutscher Kunsthistorikertag, Hannover, 28.–31. Juli 1954"]." Kunstchronik 7, no. 10 (October 1954), pp. 289–90, constructs an oeuvre for the artist Peter Spitzer on the basis of his 1547 engraving of Brunswick in the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, and includes, along with three epitaph paintings in the Wittenberg Stadtkirche, the altarwings with donor portraits in the schlosskapelle at Celle; notes that he had also considered including the MMA triptych in Spitzer's oeuvre but rejected it.
Theodor Riewerts and Paul Pieper. Die Maler tom Ring: Ludger der Ältere, Hermann, Ludger der Jüngere. [Munich], 1955, pp. 48–50, 120–21, no. 138, pls. 121–24 (overall and details), describe our triptych as a representation of the Biblical text, "For where two or three are assembled in my name, there am I in the midst of them" [Matthew 18:20]; remark that in comparison with Ludger's "usual communicativeness," this work does not bear the artist's monogram, and tentatively support an attribution to Spitzer; note that the face of Christ looks somewhat empty and almost saccharine to us now, but was intended to posess an idealized, impersonal beauty; Riewerts identifies the young woman on the right wing as the oldest daughter of the family in the center panel, noting her resemblance to the mother, and, still more, her sister and oldest brother; Pieper, however, supports Wehle and Salinger [Ref. 1947] in identifying the man on the left wing as the oldest son in this family.
Hubertus Schwartz. "Profane Denkmäler." Soest in seinen Denkmälern. 1, Soest, 1955, pp. 54–56, ill. (detail of orb), identifies the city reflected in Christ's orb as Soest, observing however that the representation is not very exact.
Friedrich Winkler. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. June 7, 1956, observes that he and his colleague [Heinrich] Zimmermann reject attribution of the triptych to Ludger tom Ring the Younger and find it "better in many regards"; suggests that our picture could be by Peter Spitzer, a court painter in Brunswick that Zimmermann is interested in, noting that Sptizer's best work seems to be the wings of an altar in the chapel of Celle Castle; adds that he is "not yet convinced, your paintings could be by another north german artist, but surely they are not by the stiff—notwithstanding artistic and original—Ludger tom Ring".
Carla Gottlieb. "The Mystical Window in Paintings of the Salvator Mundi." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 56 (December 1960), p. 332 n. 40.
Fred Brauen. "A Late Sixteenth Century German Devotional Triptych." Master's thesis, New York University, 1964, pp. 1–93, figs. 1a–1c (overall and details), proposes that the wings of this altarpiece were not part of the original composition; identifies the language of the inscriptions as Low German and the city reflected in the glass orb as Soest; doubts that our altarpiece and the Celle wings are from the same hand; calls our frame contemporary with the painting, noting that the frames for the Celle wings are similar.
Fred Brauen. Ludger tom Ring's Devotional Triptych in New York: Further Evidence Toward Its Dating and Identification. 1965, pp. 1–26, figs. 1, 2 (overall and detail), assumes that the city reflected in the orb is Soest and identifies the family as the von Kleppings of Soest, based on an inscripton on a grave recorded in Ref. Schwartz (vol. 3, p. 43) that is similar to one on a plaque in our painting.
Heinrich Zimmermann. Letter to Claus Virch. March 2, 1970, notes that the wings of the Celle altarpiece show the same kind of flowers that appear in our painting, and that this very individual arrangement of the cut flowers is otherwise unknown; adds that Spitzer [to whom he attributes the Celle altarwings] has included a vase with similarly handled flowers in Marten de Vos's Celle panel representing the angel of the Annunciation; mentions a view of Hamburg in an article by [Carl] Schellenberg [Eine Hamburger Stadtansicht aus dem 16. Jahrhundert, published in Ehrengabe des Museums fuer Hamburgische Geschichte, 1939, ill. p. 119] that seems to him to be related stylistically to the cityscape on the glass orb in our painting.
Fred Brauen. Ludger tom Ring and the Kleppings of Soest: The New York Triptych. 1974, pp. 1–80, figs. 1, 2 (overall and detail).
Gerhard Langemeyer in "Das Stilleben als Attribut." Stilleben in Europa. Exh. cat., Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte. Münster, 1979, p. 226, ill. p. 224, describes it as a cross between an allegory and a portrait and notes that the individual flowers on the table are juxtaposed with the entire world, in the form of Christ's orb.
Hans Ost. "Ein italo-flämisches Hochzeitsbild und Überlegungen zur ikonographischen Struktur des Gruppenportraits im 16. Jahrhundert." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 41 (1980), pp. 131, 137–38, fig. 6, notes that our triptych, like the Italo-Flemish "Wedding at Cana" that he publishes (ca. 1580, private collection, Cologne), integrates two levels of reality in combining a figure of worship with contemporary portraits.
Diane Owen Hughes. "Representing the Family: Portraits and Purposes in Early Modern Italy." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17 (Summer 1986), p. 36 n. 38.
E. de Jongh. Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw. Exh. cat., Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1986, pp. 36, 63 n. 5, fig. 31, notes that as in double portraits or pendants, in which the man appears on the heraldic right of his wife and she on his left, the men in this altarpiece are depicted on Christ's right, and the women on his left; comments on the moral and religious symbolism linking the right with life, light, God, and Christ, and the left with unluckiness, death, and the devil; also remarks that the men do not wear hats, while the women do, a custom that was in place into the seventeenth century, especially among the strictly religious, and which derives from 1 Corinthians,11:5, "But every woman that prayest or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head . . . ".
Sophie McConnell. Metropolitan Jewelry. New York, 1991, pp. 26, 82, ill. pp. 27, 82–83 (in color, overall and detail), discusses the fashion in the early sixteenth century of wearing large, heavy chains, noting that in Flanders and Germany they were mostly worn by women, as is the case in our triptych.
J. G. Links. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. September 13, 1993, describes the fur worn by the young man in the left wing as "a serious but . . . [judging from a photograph] not very skilled attempt to portray marten of some kind" and notes that "the longer rump hair and shorter hair at the neck are clearly shown, also the dark stripe at the mane"; calls the fur worn by the older man in the central panel "various pieces, probably waste, of fur . . . joined to make an attractive collar. Probably different parts of squirrel pelts but fancifully painted and without serious attempt at realism".
Hans Georg Gmelin in The Dictionary of Art. 26, New York, 1996, p. 408, mentions this triptych as an oustanding work from Ludger's time in Brunswick, along with his portraits of Reinhard and Gese Reiner (1569, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick).
Birgit Hahn-Woernle. Sebastian Stoskopff: Mit einem kritischen Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1996, pp. 79, 81 n. 25, ill. (central panel), as by "Peter Spitzer?"; states that the flowers refer to the Passion and to Paradise.
Peter Klein. Letter to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. July 5, 1996, notes that all the boards of the left and right wing come from one tree, and those from the middle panel come from a second tree; gives an earliest creation date for the painting of 1563, but a more plausible creation date of 1573 upwards.
Die Maler tom Ring. Exh. cat., Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte. Münster, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 644–45, no. 202, ill., due to family resemblance believes the man on the left wing is the son of the couple in the central panel; notes that K. H. Kirchhoff of Münster suggests the city reflected in Christ's orb could be Bremen, Braunschweig, or Lüneburg.
Sam Segal in Die Maler tom Ring. Exh. cat., Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte. Münster, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 134, 147 nn. 128–29, notes that the handling of the flowers on the table before Christ has nothing in common with those of Ludger, and that Hermann tom Ring, who was Catholic, could not have painted this very Protestant painting; identifies the flowers depicted here.
Jutta Held. Letter to Maryan Ainsworth. November 13, 2000, states that the inscriptions in the painting are written in Niederdeutsch and that their probable source was the "Bugenhagen-Bibel"; observes that Bugenhagen, a colleague of Martin Luther, translated Luther's Bible into Niederdeutsch (a dialect that was used in the region between Sauerland and Pommern).
Ingrid Schulze. Lucas Cranach d. J. und die protestantische Bildkunst in Sachsen und Thüringen: Frömmigkeit, Theologie, Fürstenreformation. Bucha bei Jena, 2004, p. 186.
Gisela Jaacks. E-mail to Joshua Waterman. August 5, 2005, agrees that the city reflected in Christ's orb is Hamburg seen from the east, identifies the various church towers and notes that the facade of St. Katharine's looked like this only between 1569 and 1596, and thus provides termini post and ante quem; also remarks that the costumes, especially those of the women, reflect those of four Hamburg women that appear in a drawing by Melchior Lorichs (Evelyn Collection, Stonor Park); notes that Lorichs was in Hamburg only between 1568 and 1575, but she doubts the drawing was made before 1570; observes that the jewelry of the women reveals that they were from Hamburg's upper class, adding that such luxury would only have been conceivable in its uppermost strata.