Ambrosius Benson (Netherlandish, Lombardy (?), active by 1519–died 1550 Bruges)
possibly ca. 1520–25
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Shaped top, 36 x 22 1/8 in. (91.4 x 56.2 cm)
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 537
Inscription: Inscribed (top center, on cross): INRI
Delassue, Paris (until 1905); [Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris, 1905–7; cat., 1905, no. 11, as Flemish School, 16th century; sale, Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, June 3–5, 1907, no. 214, as school of Gerard David]; Paul Mersch, Paris (1907–8; his sale [Collection de M. P. M . . .], Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 8, 1908, no. 21, as by Gerard David, for Fr 1,500 to Rothschild); Rothschild (from 1908); Bolton, London; [Ehrich Galleries, New York, in 1920]; ?a Russian museum; Victor Hahn, Berlin (by 1926–32; cat. 1926, no. 84; his sale, Ball & Graupe, Berlin, June 27, 1932, no. 12, as by Ambrosius Benson); Dr. Ernst Schwarz, New York (by 1948–d. 1957; ?his heirs until 1959; sale, Christie's, London, June 26, 1959, no. 30, "The Property of a Gentleman formerly in the Collection of the late Dr. Ernst Schwarz," as by Ambrosius Benson, for 2,200 gns. to "Leadbeater" [Linsky]); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1959–his d. 1980); The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, New York (1980–82)
Bruges. Maison du Gouverneur. "Exposition de la Toison d'Or à Bruges," June–October 1907, no. 208 (as by G. David, lent by Paul Mersch, Paris).
New York. Ehrich Galleries. "Exhibition of Primitives," January 5–21, 1920, no. 4 (as by Ambrosius Benson).
Illustrated Catalogue of the Ninth Series of 100 Paintings by Old Masters. Paris, 1905, p. 18, no. 11, ill., as Christ taken down from the Cross, Flemish School, 16th century.
Exposition de la Toison d'Or à Bruges. Exh. cat., Maison de Gouverneur, Bruges. Brussels, 1907, p. 59, ascribe it to Gerard David.
Catalogue de tableaux composant la collection Ch. Sedelmeyer, Troisième vente comprenant lest tableaux des écoles flamande, italienne, espagnole et des mâitres primitifs. Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris. June 3–5, 1907, p. 244, no. 214, ill., ascribed to the school of Gerard David.
Adolph Donath. "Sammlung Victor Hahn." Kunstwanderer (January 1927), p. 192, ill., as by Ambrosius Benson.
"Die Sammlung Victor Hahn." Der Kunstwanderer (May 1932), pp. 248–49, no. 12, ill., as Benson.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 11, Die Antwerpener Manieristen; Adriaen Ysenbrant. Berlin, 1933, p. 143, no. 253, catalogues it with the works of Benson.
Martin Davies. The National Gallery, London [Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, 3]. Vol. 1, Antwerp, 1953, p. 90.
Georges Marlier. Ambrosius Benson et la peinture à Bruges au temps de Charles-Quint. Damme, Belgium, 1957, pp. 90–91, 292, no. 38, dates it about 1520–25.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 11, The Antwerp Mannerists, Adriaen Ysenbrant. New York, 1974, p. 96, no. 253, pl. 168.
Guy C. Bauman inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 70–72, no. 23, ill.
Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, p. 316, no. 107, ill.
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Roy Lichtenstein: Disciple of Color and Line, Master of Irony." New York Times (March 31, 1995), p. C27.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition. New York, 1998, p. 91 n. 85.
From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, p. 407, ill.
Aileen June Wang. "An 'Adoration of the Magi' after Hugo van der Goes." Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University 59, nos. 1 and 2 (2000), pp. 39–40, figs. 5–6 (infrared reflectogram composites).
The picture is quite well preserved although it has been transferred from panel to canvas. There are repairs along what was a vertical crack in the original support that runs vertically the length of the picture 1 1/2 inches to the right of the cross. Minor paint losses, most notably in the fingers of the Virgin's right hand, Christ's right cheek, and all around the perimeter, have been inpainted. An abrupt transition in the tonality of the sky running horizontally about 2 1/2 inches below the cross bar may be a pentiment—perhaps the bar was originally lower—though examination by infrared reflectograph failed to elucidate this curious appearance.
Martin Davies (1953) cites this picture among other works whose compositions are similar to that of a Deposition by David in the National Gallery, London. Georges Marlier (1959) suggests as a model the Lamentation by David in the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and marks what he considers Benson's improvements. For one of these, the positioning of the Magdalen, he proposes other models by David: the Deposition in the National Gallery, London, and a Lamentation in the P. and N. de Boer Foundation collection, Amsterdam. Marlier dates the MMA picture about 1520–25.
The four figures here are repeated in a somewhat later half-length composition by Benson in Bilbao. Another Lamentation, attributed to Isenbrant and with the same composition as the Linsky picture, sold at auction in 1983, further evidence of a popular model by David that inspired both Isenbrant and Benson.