At least three artists collaborated on this well-preserved altarpiece, which is still in its original (though regilt) frame. Adam and Eve on the exterior are based on Dürer's 1504 engraving of the subject. The Old Testament scenes on the inner wings are prefigurations of the Last Supper, which is depicted in a fantastic Renaissance architectural setting on the central panel. The left wing shows the king and high priest Melchizedek outside the gates of Salem giving bread and wine to the patriarch Abraham. The right wing represents Moses and the Israelites in the desert fed by manna falling from heaven.
Inscription: Inscribed (on frame): (under left wing) CENANTIBVSILLIS, ACZEPIT; (under central panel) IESVS PANEM BENEDIXIT, ACFREJIT, DEDITQV[E]; (under right wing) DISCIPVLIS, SVIS, DICENS (And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said . . . [Matthew 26:26].); (right wing, on tent in background) AVE MARIA . . .
comte de Montebello (until 1909; sold to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1909; sold to Morgan]; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1909–d. 1913; his estate, 1913–17)
Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (pp. 10–11).
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. 68.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Recent Loans." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (September 1909), p. 154, ascribes the triptych to Herri Met de Bles.
Max J. Friedländer. "Die Antwerpener Manieristen von 1520." Jahrbuch der Königlich Preuszischen Kunstsammlungen 36 (1915), pp. 80–81, ill. (central panel), includes this triptych with works by the Antwerp follower of Pseudo-Blesius who painted the Adoration of the Magi in the Ertborn collection [now Koninklijk Museum, Antwerp].
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 11, Die Antwerpener Manieristen; Adriaen Ysenbrant. Berlin, 1933, pp. 38, 120, no. 43, pl. 23 (central panel), ascribes it to the Antwerp follower of Pseudo-Blesius who painted the Adoration of the Magi in the Van Groote collection, Kitzburg [pls. 18 and 19, present location unknown].
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 129–30, ill., as the work of an Antwerp Mannerist.
Ernest Lotthé. La pensée chrétienne dans la peinture flamande et hollandaise. Lille, 1947, vol. 2, pp. 192, 337.
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, p. 93.
Georges Marlier. Pierre Coeck d'Alost. Brussels, 1966, p. 106, relates the iconography of our painting to that of an engraving of the Last Supper by the Monogrammist I. A. from Zwolle, from the last quarter of the 15th century (fig. 36, Albertina, Vienna).
D. Farmer. Primitifs flamands anonymes. Exh. cat., Groeninge Museum. Bruges, 1969, pp. 164–65, 167, no. 91, ill. (the triptych and central panel).
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 11, The Antwerp Mannerists, Adriaen Ysenbrant. New York, 1974, pp. 25, 71, no. 43, pl. 47.
Guy Delmarcel. "Het antependium van Herkenrode, Antwerps borduurwerk uit 1528–1529." Bulletin des Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire 55, no. 1 (1984), pp. 59, 71, fig. 5, publishes an antependium dated 1528 (Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels) that includes a scene of the Last Supper; notes that the scene's composition derives from altarpieces like ours and another Last Supper triptych (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels), both of which he attributes to the Master of the Groote Adoration.
Barbara Welzel. Abendmahlsaltäre vor der Reformation. PhD diss., Freie Universität, Berlin. Berlin, 1991, pp. 108, 158, no. 9, fig. 9, identifies the iconographic theme as the communion of Judas and dates the altarpiece between 1510 and 1520.
Ariane van Suchtelen inArt on Wings: Celebrating the Reunification of a Triptych by Gerard David. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. The Hague, 1997, pp. 68–69, ill.
Véronique Sintobin inFrom 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. 80, 262–65, no. 68, ill. (color), dates the altarpiece 1515–20, calling it a collaborative work in which one artist contributed the idealized figures of Adam and Eve after Dürer's 1504 engraving of the Fall of Man, another provided the stereotyped figures on the interior, and a third apparently painted the head of the man in the left foreground of the central panel, perhaps a portrait.
Maurits Smeyers inDirk Bouts (ca. 1410–1475): Een Vlaams primitief te Leuven. Ed. Maurits Smeyers. Exh. cat., Sint-Pieterskerk en Predikherenkerk, Leuven. Louvain, 1998, p. 58 n. 63, refers to this picture, with its scenes of Abraham and Melchizedek, as well as the Gathering of Manna, among antecedents to Dirk Bouts "Last Supper Altarpiece," Sint-Pieterskerk, Leuven.
The triptych frame is from Antwerp and dates to about 1515 (see Additional Images, figs. 1–3). This exuberant molding with a sill across the base is made of oak and retains its original pegs which secure lap joints. Its original hinges also remain. In typical fashion the center panel frame profile is slightly larger than that on the two wings. The original surface would have been painted black, perhaps with gold highlighted molding details. Its present appearance is a skillfully executed water gilded and blue painted early-sixteenth-century Venetian-style ornamented surface carried out most likely here at the museum during the first half of the twentieth century.
[Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2017; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files]
The central panel of this intact triptych depicts the Last Supper, the left wing Abraham Receiving Bread and Wine from Melchizedek, and the right wing the Fall of Manna. The exterior depicts Adam and Eve.