Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges)
Oil on wood
Angel, overall 31 1/8 x 25 in. (79.1 x 63.5 cm), painted surface 30 1/4 x 24 3/8 in. (76.8 x 61.9 cm); Virgin, overall 31 1/8 x 25 1/4 in. (79.1 x 64.1 cm), painted surface 30 1/2 x 24 3/4 in. (77.5 x61.9 cm)
Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 640
These panels were part of a spectacular multi-storied polyptych commissioned by Vincenzo Sauli, a wealthy Italian banker and diplomat with connections to Bruges, for the high altar of the Benedictine abbey church of San Gerolamo della Cervara, near Genoa. Taking the placement of the Annunciation within the altarpiece into account, David has altered the perspective and the scale of the figures, since both panels were meant to be viewed from below. In style, the ensemble reveals a synthesis of northern and Italian artistic modes that perhaps reflect the patron’s ties to both regions.
Inscription: Inscribed: (on angel's cope) [VIRTVS AL]TISSIMI OBOMBRABIT T[IBI] ([the power of the] Highest shall overshadow thee [Luke 1:35].) and ALPHA ET OM[EGA]; (on Virgin's robe) MOEDER·ONS:HER[N] / AVE·MARIA·GRACI[A]E·M[ATER] / MISERICORDI[A]E·TV·NOS: ABHOS[TE]·[PROTEGE] (the first words on the Virgin's robe meaning Mother of Our Lord, and the remainder from Salutis auctor, a hymn sung at Compline, and included, as is the verse from Luke on the angel's cope, in the office of the Feast of the Annunciation)
part of a polyptych originally in the abbey church of San Girolamo della Cervara, between Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, Italy (probably until 1799); Gabriel Johann Peter Weyer, Cologne (by 1852–62; cats., 1852, nos. 132, 133, and 1899, nos. 206, 207; sale, Heberle, Cologne, August 25, 1862, nos. 217, 218, as by Jan van Eyck, to Prof. A. Muller, possibly acting as an agent, for 1,020 thalers); ?Prof. A. Muller (from 1862); Fürst Karl Anton von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Sigmaringen, Prussia (by 1869–85; cats., 1871 and 1883, nos. 2, 4); Fürsten von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1885–1928/29); [A. S. Drey, Munich and New York, 1929]; [Knoedler, New York, 1929]; Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, New York (1929–his d. 1940); Mrs. Edward S. (Mary Stillman) Harkness, New York (1940–d. 1950)
Munich. Königliches Kunstausstellungsgebäude. "Gemälden älterer Meister," 1869, nos. 16, 17 (as by Jan van Eyck, lent by Königl. Hoh. Fürst v. Hohenzollern Sigmaringen).
Bruges. Palais du Gouvernement. "Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien," June 15–September 15, 1902, no. 128 (as by Gerard David, lent by the Musée de Sigmaringen).
Munich. Alte Pinakothek. "The Sigmaringen Gallery," 1928, no catalogue? (lent by the Sigmaringen Collection).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "A Loan Exhibition of Sixteen Masterpieces," January 6–18, 1930, nos. 9, 10.
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800," May–October 1939, no. 78 (lent by Edward S. Harkness).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "24 Masterpieces," November 4–23, 1946, nos. 5, 6 (lent by Mrs. Edward Harkness).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, nos. 97, 98.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gerard David: Flanders's Last Medieval Master," April 1–May 9, 1972, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 79.
Genoa. Musei di Strada Nuova — Palazzo Bianco. "Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David," October 8, 2005–January 8, 2006, unnumbered cat.
C. G. Ratti. Descrizione delle Pitture, Scolture . . . delle due Riviere dello Stato Ligure. 1780, p. 28, mentions "un bellissimo quadro" of the Madonna and Child in the church of the Benedictines at Cervara [this is the altarpiece, which included our two Annunciation panels, that Spinola saw in the church shortly after 1790; see Ref. Spinola n.d.]; ascribes it to Frans Floris
Giuseppe Spinola. Le Memorie Storiche del Monistero, e Badia di S. Girolamo della Cervara . . . dall'anno . . .1360 al 1790. n.d. [shortly after 1790], pp. 596–98 [Biblioteca Universitaria de Genova, Ms. B. VIII. 13; excerpted in Ref. Castelnovi 1952; reprinted in its entirety in Ref. Adhémar 1961]
, describes a polyptych in the apse of the church of the Monastery of the Cervara with, at the center, the Virgin and Child Enthroned, on their right, Saint Jerome, and Saint Benedict on their left; above them were the Virgin and Angel of the Annunciation [identified by Castelnovi with our panels; see Ref. 1952], and in the center, above, a bust-length God the Father; adds that all these panels were displayed in a large gilt frame, and that below the picture was inscribed: "Hoc opus fecit fieri Dnus Vincentius Saulus MCCCCCVI die VII Septembris."; reports that the altarpiece was for a long time believed to be the work of Albrecht Dürer and finds this attribution more reasonable than Ratti's attribution to Floris [see Ref. 1780]
Beschreibung des Inhaltes der Sammlung von Gemälden älterer Meister des Herrn Johann Peter Weyer in Coeln. Cologne, , p. 42, nos. 132, 133, describes the two panels as a diptych by a follower of Jan van Eyck, possibly van Orley.
M. Unger in "Erläuterungen über einen Theil der Bildersammlung des Herrn Johann Peter Weyer." Beschreibung des Inhaltes etc. Cologne, 1852, p. 113, suggests that the compositions are derived from Mabuse.
W. H. James Weale. "Notice sur la collection de tableaux anciens, faisant partie de la galerie de Mr J. P. Weyer . . ." Messager des sciences historiques (1862), p. 457, nos. 217, 218, as a diptych by "Hugo van der Goes?," sold to Prof. A. Muller for 1,020 thalers.
G. Parthey. Deutscher Bildersaal. Vol. 2, L–Z. Berlin, 1864, p. 203, lists them separately by Van Orley.
J. A. C[rowe]. "Die Ausstellung von Gemälden älterer Meister in München (part 2)." Die Grenzboten 28 (October 1869), p. 57, rejects the attribution to Jan van Eyck and ascribes them to Gerard David.
F. A. Lehner. Fürstlich Hohenzollern'sches Museum zu Sigmaringen: Verzeichniss der Gemälde. Sigmaringen, 1871, p. 2, no. 2, p. 3, no. 4, as by Gerard David.
J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle. The Early Flemish Painters. 2nd ed. London, 1872, pp. 129, 306, as "probably by Gerard David," by the same hand as the Rouen altarpiece; place them at the close of the 15th century.
W. H. James Weale. Gerard David. London, 1895, p. 45, calls them two shutters of a triptych and notes that the style of the figures and the coloring are in the manner of David's later work.
Henri Hymans. "L'exposition des primitifs flamands à Bruges (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 28 (August 1902), p. 295, as the wings of a triptych by David.
Georges H. de Loo Palais du Gouvernement, Bruges. Exposition de tableaux flamands des XIVe, XVe et XVIe siècles: catalogue critique précédé d'une introduction sur l'identité de certains maîtres anonymes. Ghent, 1902, p. 33 nos. 128 and 128 bis, attributes them to Gerard David, dates them after 1509 and calls them the wings of a triptych, observing that one can see from the floor and the difference in lighting that a central panel is missing.
Max J. Friedländer. Meisterwerke der niederländischen Malerei des XV. u. XVI. Jahrhunderts auf der Ausstellung zu Brügge 1902. Munich, 1903, pp. 17–18, nos. 47–48, pl. 128, ascribes them to David, calls them outer wings of an altarpiece and dates them about 1510.
Max J. Friedländer. "Die Brügger Leihausstellung von 1902." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 26 (1903), p. 87, nos. 128, 128 bis.
W. H. James Weale. "The Early Painters of the Netherlands as Illustrated by the Bruges Exhibition of 1902, Article IV." Burlington Magazine 2 (June 1903), p. 39, observes that the style of the figures and the coloring of the Annunciation are very much in David's manner and may possibly be by him; mentions a copy of the composition in the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, "apparently painted by a Netherlandish artist in the Peninsula or by a Portuguese artist in the Low Countries, the inscription on the border of the angel's vestments being in Portuguese: Modar de Senor".
Eberhard von Bodenhausen. Gerard David und seine Schule. Munich, 1905, pp. 11–12, 15, 19, 64–65, 73–74, 92, 108, 173–75, no. 33, p. 187, ill. opp. pp. 174 and 175 (2 pls.), believes these panels were the outside wings of a polyptych which, when closed, included additional wing elements that created a spatial extension between the Angel and the Virgin, comparable to the Annunciation in the Ghent Altarpiece; considers the Frankfurt version a product of David's workshop and rejects Weale's reading [see Ref. 1903] of the inscription on the Angel's robe as Portuguese.
Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 1, Vienna, 1906, p. 386.
[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert. La peinture en Belgique: Les primitifs flamands. Vol. 2, Brussels, 1909, p. 152, lists it as a work of David's maturity.
Ernst Heidrich. Altniederländische Malerei. Jena, Germany, 1910, p. 36, pls. 86–87.
L. de Fourcaud. "La fin de l'art primitif à Bruges: Gérard David." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 30 (July–December 1911), p. 426, as painted after 1509.
W. H. James Weale and Maurice W. Brockwell. The Van Eycks and their Art. London, 1912, Appendix B, pp. 262, 265, appear to confuse these panels, sold with the Weyer collection in 1862, with a diptych of the Annunciation attributed to Van Eyck that came from the Weyer collection, but was sold at Christie's, as no. 73, June 14, 1855, from the collection of James Dennistoun.
Friedr. Winkler. "Gerard David und die Brügger Minaturmalerei seiner Zeit." Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 6 (1913), p. 279, states that the angel here was the model for the angel of the Annunciation on the reverse of David's wing panels from the Kann collection (now Lehman Collection, M.M.A.) and that these panels thus post-date our Annunciation.
Friedrich Winkler inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Ulrich Thieme. Vol. 8, Leipzig, 1913, p. 453.
Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, p. 181.
Salomon Reinach. Répertoire de peintures du moyen age et de la renaissance (1280–1580). Vol. 4, Paris, 1918, p. 52, ill. (engravings).
Martin Conway. The Van Eycks and Their Followers. London, 1921, p. 283, considers the composition a later development by David of his Annunciation on the reverse of the Lehman wing panels [see Ref. Winkler 1913].
Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, p. 138.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 6, Memling und Gerard David. Berlin, 1928, p. 147, no. 173, notes that the lines of perspective in the foor tiling show that the panels were not meant to abut.
[A. L.] M[ayer]. "Die Fürstlich-Hohenzollernschen Sammlungen in Sigmaringen." Pantheon 1 (1928), pp. 59–61, ill.
Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 133.
[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert and Paul Fierens. Histoire de la peinture flamande des origines à la fin du XVe siècle. Vol. 3, La maturité de l'art flamand. Paris, 1929, p. 89.
Ella S. Siple. "Art in America—Messrs. Knoedler's Exhibition." Burlington Magazine 55 (December 1929), p. 332.
"Old Masters in New York." Connoisseur 84 (1929), p. 408, ill. pp. 361, 411.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner, ed. Unknown Masterpieces in Public and Private Collections. Vol. 1, London, 1930, no. 38, ill.
"Old Masters in New York Galleries." Parnassus 2 (January 1930), pp. 3–4, ill.
Hubert Wilm. Kunstsammler und Kunstmarkt. Munich, 1930, p. 34.
R. H. Wilenski. "A Recent Loan Exhibition in New York." Apollo 11 (January 1930), p. 34, ill. pp. 32–33, compares it to the Annunciation in the Louvre ascribed to Rogier van der Weyden, and to a miniature of the Annunciation in the Traite des Louanges de la Vierge offered in 1491 to Philip the Good by Jean Mielot, canon of the Chapter of Lille (Brussels, no. 9270).
H[arry]. B. W[ehle]. "Paintings Lent from the Harkness Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 28 (January 1933), pp. 11–12.
V. Vitale. "Diplomatici e consoli della Republica di Genova." Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria 63 (1934), pp. 4, 48, 134–35.
Ernst Günter Troche. Niederländische Malerei. Berlin, 1935, p. 28, pl. 50.
Erwin Panofsky. "The Friedsam Annunciation and the Problem of the Ghent Altarpiece." Art Bulletin 17 (December 1935), p. 446 n. 25.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 14, Pieter Bruegel und Nachträge zu den früheren Bänden. Leiden, 1937, p. 106, no. 173.
Wolfgang Schöne. Die Grossen Meister der Niederländischen Malerei des 15. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1939, p. 30, pls. 144–45, as apparently the outer wings of an altarpiece.
Mary Louise Lischer. "The Annunciation by Gerard David, Flemish, Late XV, Early XVI Century." Bulletin of the City Art Museum of St. Louis 27 (May–June 1942), p. 40.
Joseph van der Elst. The Last Flowering of the Middle Ages. Garden City, N.Y., 1944, p. 98, colorpl. 25.
K. G. Boon. Gerard David. Amsterdam, , p. 44, ill. pp. 40–41.
Ernest Lotthé. La pensée chrétienne dans la peinture flamande et hollandaise. Lille, 1947, vol. 1, p. 31, pl. X; vol. 2, p. 320 n. 18.
Margaretta Salinger. "An Annunciation by Gerard David." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 9 (May 1951), pp. 225–29, ill. p. 226 and in color on cover (the Angel), observes that some lost connective must once have existed between the two panels adding that the window seat and the headboard of the Virgin's bed are "cut short with improbable abruptness"; concludes that the two figures were cut from a larger picture in which the Angel was on a lower level than the Virgin.
J. van der Elst. L'Age d'or flamand. Paris, 1951, p. 186, ill. pp. 184, 187.
H[enry]. L[a]. F[arge]. "In the Harkness Manner." Art News 50 (October 1951), p. 43, ill. p. 41 (the Angel in Harkness dining room), and in color, p. 42 (Angel before and after treatment).
Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 226, nos. 97, 98, ill. (color).
M. L. D'Otrange. "Gerard David at the Metropolitan, New York." Connoisseur 128 (January 1952), pp. 208–10, ill.
Gian Vittorio Castelnovi. "Il polittico di Gerard David nell' Abazzia della Cervara." Commentari 3, no. 1 (1952), pp. 22–27, fig. 1 (reconstruction of altarpiece), publishes Spinola's description of the altarpiece at S. Girolamo della Cervara [see Ref. Spinola n.d.], identifying three panels now in the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, as the Virgin and Child, Saint Jerome, and Saint Benedict, and our two panels as the Virgin and Angel of the Annunciation; locates the bust-length God the Father in the Louvre, Paris, and tentatively reconstructs the polyptych; suggests that David's Crucifixion in the Palazzo Bianco, which is the same width as the main panel with the Madonna and Child, may originally have been part of the altarpiece, but separated from it before Spinola saw it; believes that the polyptych as described by Spinola was probably dismantled in 1799 when the monks abandoned the monastery, and assumes the date of 1506 which Spinola read beneath the altarpiece to be the year in which it was completed by the artist; describes in a footnote (n. 15) the early history of the altarpiece: in 1498 a Giovanni Pallavicini, upon joining the monastery, gave funds for the creation of an altarpiece for the main altar with silk curtains/tapestries; restrictions on these funds were not met, and Pope Alexander VI granted permission in 1500 for the transfer of the commission to a new patron, who would be obligated to follow the provisions cited in Pallavicino's legacy.
Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, vol. 1, pp. 352, 508 n. 5 (to p. 352), accepts Salinger's conclusion (1951) that the Annunciation panels were cut from a larger picture.
G. J. Hoogewerff. "A proposito del polittico di Gerard David nell'Abbazia della Cervara." Commentari 4, no. 1 (1953), pp. 72–73, accepts Castelnovi's reconstruction [see Ref. 1952], but argues that the altarpiece was commissioned rather than installed in 1506, and that it was finished before the altarpiece in Rouen which was delivered to the Carmelite church in Bruges in 1509; states that for iconographic reasons the Crucifixion [see Ref. Castelnovi 1952] could not have been a part of the altarpiece
Hans Konrad Röthel. "Ein 'Paliotto' Gerard Davids aus der Abtei von Cervara." Die Kunst und das schöne Heim 54 (July 1956), pp. 361–364, ill. (Castelnovi's reconstruction).
Georges Marlier. Ambrosius Benson et la peinture à Bruges au temps de Charles-Quint. Damme, Belgium, 1957, p. 107.
A. Hyatt Mayor. "The Gifts that Made the Museum." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (November 1957), ill. p. 107.
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 124–25.
Goffredo J. Hoogewerff. "Pittori fiamminghi in Liguria nel secolo XVI." Commentari 12, no. 3 (July–September 1961), p. 179–81, believes 1506 to be the date the altarpiece was commissioned.
Hélène Adhémar. Le Musée National du Louvre, Paris. I [Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 5]. Brussels, 1962, pp. 136, 139–43, pl. CC (Castelnovi's reconstruction), observes that the lunette in the Louvre may have been part of the ensemble described by Spinola [see Ref., n.d.], but emphasizes the hypothetical nature of Castelnovi's 1952 reconstruction, which she finds "not very satisfying"; publishes Spinola's comments on the altarpiece in their entirety
Horst Vey. "Johann Peter Weyer, seine Gemäldesammlung und seine Kunstliebe." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 28 (1966), p. 219, nos. 106–7, ill. (engraving).
Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 196.
Gert von der Osten and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Baltimore, 1969, p. 142.
Gian Vittorio Castelnovi inLa pittura a Genova e in Liguria dagli inizi al Cinquecento. Genoa, 1970, pp. 146–48, fig. 112 (reconstruction), identifies the saint on the Virgin's left as Saint Maur, rather than Benedict; comments that the Italianate and, in particular, Ligurian qualities of the altarpiece suggest that David traveled to Genoa at this time.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 6, Hans Memlinc and Gerard David. New York, 1971, part 2, p. 102, no. 173, pls. 186 (reconstruction), 188.
Jacques Lavalleye inAn Illustrated Inventory of Famous Dismembered Works of Art: European Painting. Paris, 1974, pp. 52, 68–69, ill.
Diane Graybowski Scillia. "Gerard David and Manuscript Illumination in the Low Countries, 1480–1509." PhD diss., Case Western Reserve University, 1975, pp. 54–55, 70–71 n. 32, pp. 181, 209 n. 70, pp. 238, 247 n. 40, dates the Cervara polyptych about 1511, or at least after 1509, noting that it was dedicated by 1515; thinks it more likely that it was painted in David's workshop rather than in Italy, and observes that "only the broadest definition of David's style can encompass all of the panels . . . as the product of his own hand"; observes that the dryness and loss of monumentality in the main panels is less noticeable in our Annunciation panels, although the stiff drapery of the angel definitely reveals the work of assistants.
Hugh Brigstocke. "Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, James Dennistoun: Collector and Traveller." Connoisseur 198 (August 1978), pp. 321–22 n. 21, ill. p. 320, incorrectly states that Dennistoun bought these panels in 1853, as works of Van Eyck, from the Weyer collection.
Edwin James Mundy III. "Gerard David Studies." PhD diss., Princeton University, 1980, pp. 41, 53 n. 68, p. 54 n. 68a.
Larry Silver. "Early Northern European Paintings." Bulletin of the Saint Louis Art Museum, n.s., 16 (Summer 1982), p. 15, considers our panels the closest thematic comparison to an Annunciation in tondo form in the Saint Louis Art Museum, which he believes to be a late work of David.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Gerard David's Working Methods: Some Preliminary Observations." Le Dessin sous-jacent dans la peinture. Ed. Roger van Schoute and Dominique Hollanders-Favart. Colloque 5, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1985, pp. 54, 58 n. 3, p. 59 n. 9, describes the underdrawing as "complete and executed in an extraordinarily free and spontaneous manner".
C. Périer-d'Ieteren. Colyn de Coter et la technique picturale des peintres flamands du XVe siècle. Brussels, 1985, p. 33, notes that Maryan Ainsworth described the medium of the underdrawing in these panels as black ink with an aqueous suppleness.
Maryan Wynn Ainsworth and Molly Faries. "Northern Renaissance Paintings: The Discovery of Invention." Bulletin of the Saint Louis Art Museum, n.s., 18 (Summer 1986), p. 15.
Peter Klein. Letter to Maryan W. Ainsworth. November 11, 1986.
Introduction by James Snyder inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 11, 46, 48–49, ill. (color).
Hans J. van Miegroet. "New Documents Concerning Gerard David." Art Bulletin 69 (March 1987), pp. 37–38, observes that there are no recorded documents for David between 1503 and 1507; suggests that he was traveling during this time and may have painted the Cervara altarpiece in Italy.
Hans J. van Miegroet. "Letters." Art Bulletin 70 (March 1988), p. 143.
Massimo Bartoletti inLa pittura in Italia: il Cinquecento. Ed. Giuliano Briganti. revised and expanded ed. [Milan], 1988, vol. 2, p. 697, erroneously places the Angel and Virgin of the Annunciation from the Cervara Altarpiece in the National Gallery, London.
Hans J. van Miegroet. Gerard David. Antwerp, 1989, pp. 212, 217–18, 221, 227 ns. 86–88, pp. 268, 294–96, no. 25, ill. pp. 211 (reconstruction of altarpiece) and 295, and colorpls. 205–6, observes that the painted edge does not coincide with the edge of the "gesso," which still shows part of the underdrawing; concludes that the preparation and underdrawing were done before the panels were placed in a large frame, and that they were then painted swiftly
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Gerard David, Hans J. van Miegroet." Art Bulletin 72 (December 1990), pp. 652–53, notes that Vincenzo Sauli was occupied with diplomatic missions in Italy in 1506, and that the commission, therefore, was made either in Italy or through an agent of Sauli's in Bruges; believes that David knew the proposed site of the altarpiece, since his subjects, habitually lit from the left, are lit from the right to accord with specific lighting conditions; also notes that the proportions of the figures indicate that he knew the altarpiece was to be seen from below and at a distance; describes the ground as chalk and glue, rather than gesso, noting that the panels were painted out of their frames and "only have a barbe at all on the lower edge;" doubts that grounded panels would have been sent to Italy, particularly not with the charcoal underdrawing of some of the panels; considers it likely that the paintings were produced in the North and shipped to Italy to fit into a frame at a site that perhaps David himself had seen.
Licia Collobi Ragghianti. Dipinti Fiamminghi in Italia, 1420–1570: catalogo. Bologna, 1990, p. 80.
Leslie Ann Blacksberg. "The Paintings of the Godhead by Jan van Eyck and Gerard David: A Study of Influence and Effect (1)." Le dessin sous-jacent dans la peinture. Ed. Hélène Verougstraete-Marcq and Roger van Schoute. Colloque 8, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1991, p. 57, pl. 31 (ill. within reconstruction).
Maryan W. Ainsworth, Selected by Guy C. Bauman, and Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 88–91, 128, no. 21, ill. (color).
Laura Tagliaferro and Clario Di Fabio. La Galleria di Palazzo Bianco: Guida. Milan, 1992, p. 40.
Jochen Sander. Niederländische Gemälde im Städel, 1400–1550. Mainz, 1993, pp. 235–43, ill. (the two panels and reconstruction of altarpiece), calls these panels the model for the "Annunciation" in Frankfurt, which he ascribes to David.
Helen M. Hyde. "Early Cinquecento 'Popolare' Art Patronage in Genoa, 1500–1528." PhD diss., Birkbeck College, University of London, 1994, pp. 246–60.
Jochen Sander. "Die Entdeckung der Kunst": Niederländische Kunst des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts in Frankfurt. Exh. cat., Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt. Mainz, 1995, p. 157, fig. 153.
Peter Klein. Letter to Maryan Ainsworth. May 12, 1997, provides dendrochronological analyis of these panels.
Clario Di Fabio. "Gerard David e il Polittico di San Gerolamo della Cervara." Pittura fiamminga in Liguria, secoli XIV–XVII. Ed. Piero Boccardo and Clario Di Fabio. Genoa, 1997.
Helen Hyde. "Gerard David's Cervara Altarpiece – An Examination of the Commission for the Monastery of San Girolamo della Cervara." Arte Cristiana 85 (July–August 1997), pp. 245–54, figs. 4 and 5, notes that when Pallavicin's funds for an altarpiece at the monastery did not materialize [see Ref. Castelnovi, 1952], Vincenzo Sauli, perhaps acting as a banker for the monastery, may have become aware of their need for a patron; argues for the inclusion of the Crucifixion in the reconstruction of the altarpiece.
Otto Pächt. Early Netherlandish Painting from Rogier van der Weyden to Gerard David. Ed. Monika Rosenauer. London, 1997, p. 250, ill. (both panels), and colorpl. 32 (Virgin Annunciate).
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "A Meeting of Sacred and Secular Worlds." 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, pp. 35–36, 43, 58, 71, 85, 114, 118, 228, 279–80, 293, 296–301, 314, 364, no. 79, ill. (overall and detail in color, and reconstruction of Cervara Altarpiece), notes that Vincenzo Sauli's family had connections in Bruges and worked there as bankers by 1506, but adds that the style of the paintings suggest that David may have had direct knowledge of the site near Genoa; comments on the altarpiece's Italianate organization, following Ligurian retables of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and its synthesis of Italian and northern styles; suggests that David may have seen and been inspired by the Gabriel in Vincenzo Foppa's 1468 fresco of the Annunciation in the Portinari chapel of Sant'Eustorgio in Milan.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition. New York, 1998, pp. vii, 3, 14, 20, 54 n. 39, pp. 78, 81, 83, 85, 87, 148, 154, 156–57, 169, 177–201, 204–5 nn. 112, 114, pp. 235, 237, 316, 320, 324, ill. (overall and details in color, reconstruction and perspectival diagram of Cervara Altarpiece, and IRR details), places in the second tier of her reconstruction the Crucifixion in the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa; discusses the polyptych's illumination from the right, its one-point perspective which she believes is intentionally off-center, and examines the iconography in depth.
Martha Wolff inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings. New York, 1998, p. 24 n. 20, pp. 104, 110–12 n. 18, ill.
Maria Fontana Amoretti and Michiel Plomp. Repertory of Dutch and Flemish Paintings in Italian Public Collections. Ed. Bert W. Meijer. Vol. 1, Liguria. Florence, 1998, p. 91.
Kunstmuseum Basel. Die Sammlung Max Geldner im Kunstmuseum Basel: Vermächtnis und Ankäufe der Stiftung. Basel, 2000, p. 34.
Cyriel Stroo et al. The Flemish Primitives III: Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Vol. 3, The Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Bouts, Gerard David, Colijn de Coter and Goossen van der Weyden Groups. Brussels, 2001, p. 240.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "'Diverse patterns pertaining to the crafts of painters or illuminators': Gerard David and the Bening Workshop." Master Drawings 41, no. 3 (2003), pp. 244, 248, 262, ill.
Carla Cavelli Traverso inPrimitivi fiamminghi in Liguria. Ed. Carla Cavelli Traverso. Recco, Genoa, 2003, p. 83.
John Oliver Hand. Joos van Cleve: The Complete Paintings. New Haven, 2004, p. 84, discusses these panels as a source for Joos's Annunciation (MMA 32.100.60).
Paula Nuttall. From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400–1500. New Haven, 2004, p. 265 n. 18.
Everett Fahy inThe Wrightsman Pictures. Ed. Everett Fahy. New York, 2005, p. 2.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Gerard David. Vita e opere." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova — Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, pp. 16–19, 21–22, 30, discusses David's possible contacts with Italian, specifically Lombard, painting.
Clario Di Fabio. "Gerard David, Vincenzo Sauli, e il 'Polittico della Cervara'." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova — Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, pp. 35–39, 41, 44–47, 56 n. 65, ill. in color, figs. 18 (reconstruction), 21 (angel), 22 (Virgin), states that Benedetto Sauli was a member of the Confraternity of the Dry Tree during the same period as Gerard David and they must surely have known each other; sees the former as the "intermediary" for the commission of the altarpiece, but suggests that Pietro Sauli, who was in Bruges from 1504, contacted the artist directly with information regarding the character of the building and its ground plan, the orientation of the space where the altarpiece would be installed, and its illumination; notes that Pietro would also have discussed with David the dimensions of the altarpiece, its theme, the time frame for its completion, and the price to be paid; asserts that the contract was signed in Bruges and all the work was executed there, rejecting any notion that David traveled to Italy between 1506 and 1507; mentions evidence that the artist was in Bruges in April 1506 and believes he was there in September to accept the commission for the Cervara altarpiece.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Il progetto di Gerard David per il 'Polittico della Cervara'." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova — Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, pp. 59–67, figs. 36, 38 (angel and infrared reflectogram of angel), believes David experienced Italian art first-hand, probably in Liguria and Lombardy—evidently in the years between 1503–7 when David is not recorded in Bruges; sees the setting of our Annunciation as generally inspired by Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece but calls the figure of Gabriel distinctly Italianate, a figure most likely inspired by Vincenzo Foppa's 1468 fresco cycle in the Portinari Chapel at Sant'Eustorgio in Milan that David must have visited; notes that only slight changes occur in the contours of forms from the underdrawing to the painted layers and concludes that David worked from model drawings in contrast to his earlier practice of freely altering the figures and composition as he worked; remarks that David used charcoal rather than his usual black chalk, probably due to a new acquaintance with Italian practice; also comments on David's first use here of wash underdrawing typical of Leonardo and his Milanese followers; states that there is a carefully planned system of sight lines uniting all the figures and insuring a focus on the Virgin and Child, Crucifixion, and God the Father.
Franca Carboni and Maria Clelia Galassi. "La tecnica esecutiva del 'Polittico della Cervara.' Indagini sulle tavole di Palazzo Bianco." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova — Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, pp. 70–71, 76, following technical investigation of the four panels in the Palazzo Bianco observe that their handling is completely homogeneous and conclude that there was little if any workshop participation in their creation; also mention that samples of the ground taken in areas with green revealed that some calcium sulphate—an unequivically Italian preparation—was present, although it was not found in the New York panels [see Ref. Centeno and Wypyski 2005], and tentatively suggest that David was stimulated by personal experience with Italian painting methods.
Silvia A. Centeno and Mark T. Wypyski. "Analisi chimiche su campioni prelevati dal 'Polittico della Cervara,' The Metropolitan Museum, New York." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, pp. 91–92, consider the calcium sulphate in the preperatory layer of our Angel and Virgin panels a trace element and believe further research is needed before it can be concluded that it was used as a ground in the Italian manner [see Ref. Carboni and Galassi 2005].
Peter Klein. "L'analisi dendrocronologica del 'Polittico della Cervara'." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, p. 94, based on analysis of growth rings provides felling dates for trees used in the creation of our panels and for the other parts of the polyptych.
Clario Di Fabio. "Una sublime disciplina, una splendida misura. Premessa al polittico e alla mostra." Il Polittico della Cervara di Gerard David. Ed. Clario Di Fabio. Exh. cat., Musei di Strada Nuova — Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Milan, 2005, pp. 10–11.
Annette LeZotte. The Home Setting in Early Netherlandish Paintings: A Statistical and Iconographical Analysis of Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century Domestic Imagery. Lewiston, N.Y., 2008, pp. 75–76, 143–47.
Stephan Kemperdick inVan Eyck to Dürer: Early Netherlandish Painting & Central Europe, 1430–1530. Exh. cat., Groeningemuseum, Bruges. Tielt, Belgium, 2010, p. 142, under no. 15.
Maryan W. Ainsworth inMan, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, p. 87 n. 46.
Maria Clelia Galassi inJoos van Cleve, Leonardo des Nordens. Ed. Peter van den Brink et al. Exh. cat., Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen. Stuttgart, 2011, p. 73.
In both panels the bottom edges are lipped, while on the other three sides a margin of between 1/4 and 5/8 inches shows the original gesso and some fragments of preparatory drawing. The two panels could not, therefore, have been cut from a larger picture as suggested by Salinger [see Ref. 1951].
These panels formed the second tier of a polyptych that Giuseppe Spinola recorded shortly after 1790 as hanging in the apse of the abbey church of San Girolamo della Cervara, near Genoa [see Refs.]. The three main panels with Saint Benedict (152.5 x 64 cm), the Virgin and Child Enthroned (153 x 89 cm, apparently cut at the top and bottom), and Saint Jerome (152.5 x 64 cm) are now in the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, inv. no. 12, and a lunette with the bust-length God the Father, that was centered above the Annunciation panels, is now in the Louvre, Paris (45.7 x 88 cm, RF. 2228). G. V. Castelnovi [see Ref. 1952] tentatively reconstructed the altarpiece and identified the dismembered parts. According to Spinola, the polyptych was displayed in a large gilt frame and the following inscription was beneath the picture: Hoc opus fecit fieri Dnus Vincentius Saulus MCCCCCVI die VII Septembris. (This work was commissioned by Vincenzo Sauli on September 7, 1506). The altarpiece was probably in situ until the suppression of the monastery in 1799.
A painting of the Annunciation in the Detroit Institute of Art (inv. no. 27.201, 33 x 22 cm, M. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, VIb, 1971, pl. 189) has certain features in common with the Museum's panels and may be an early work of David's. A later Annunciation in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt (inv. no. 1095, 40 x 33 cm, Friedländer, ibid., pl. 189) is a copy with some variation from David's workshop in which the figures are adapted to a single picture. In the Frankfurt panel there is a Portuguese inscription on the Angel's cope.
These panels figured as numbers 26 and 27 in F. A. Lehner's photographic Edition von fünfzig der bedeutenderen Gemälde bei Eduard Ebner, Stuttgart, 1868.