This exquisite private devotional painting contrasts Mary’s joy at the Annunciation, shown in the background, with her sorrow at the Crucifixion, where she swoons in John’s arms. The darkened sky heightens the poignancy of the Passion scene. Scattered around the cross are bones, referring to the belief that Adam’s skull was located on Golgotha. The pairing of the Annunciation and the Crucifixion accords with the medieval tradition that dedicated March 25th to the memory of Adam, the Annunciation, and Christ’s death, thus relating the Fall of Man, the conception of Christ, and the redemption of mankind offered by his death.
Inscription: Inscribed (top center, on cross): INRI
Colonel Hugh Duncan Baillie (?acquired in Spain); [C. J. Nieuwenhuys, Brussels, until d. 1883; his estate sale, May 4, 1883, no. 13, as by Gerard vander Meire]; Eugen Felix, Leipzig; sale, Christie's, London, July 14, 1911, no. 19, as by Van der Meire, to Agnew; [Agnew, London; 1911–12; sold to Bondy]; Oscar Bondy, Vienna, later Switzerland and New York (by 1912–d. 1944); Mrs. Oscar Bondy, New York (?1944–51); [Newhouse Galleries, New York, ?1951]; ?John Myers, Ohio (1951–55); [Newhouse Galleries, New York, ?1955]; Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1955–his d. 1980); Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1980–82)
Vienna. Secession. "Drei Jahrhunderte Vlämische Kunst: 1400–1700," January 11–February 23, 1930, no. 22 (as by Jan Provost, lent by Oscar Bondy).
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. 19.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Tableaux anciens et modernes . . . laissés par C. J. Nieuwenhuys. Galerie Saint–Luc, Brussels. May 4, 1883, p. 20, no. 13, ill., as by Gerard van der Meire, previously in the collection of Colonel Hugh Baillie, acquired in Spain during the invasion of Napoleon's army.
Hans Tietze. "Exhibition of Flemish Art at Vienna." Formes 4 (April 1930), finds Pächt's attribution of this picture to Jan Provost (see exh. cat., Vienna, 1930) "rather daring...since our knowledge of Jan Provost is derived almost entirely from the works of his maturity".
Drei Jahrhunderte vlämische Kunst: 1400–1700. Exh. cat., Secession. Vienna, 1930, p. 24, no. 22, attribute it to Provost, noting that Otto Pächt considers this panel one of the artist's early works.
Ludwig von Baldass. "Drei Jahrhunderte flämische Malerei." Pantheon 5 (January–June 1930), p. 132, supports Pächt's identification of this panel as an early work of Jan Provost, comments on the striking iconography, and sees a distinct connection with the art of Hugo van der Goes.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 9, Joos van Cleve, Jan Provost, Joachim Patenier. Berlin, 1931, pp. 83–84, 148, no. 148, dates it between 1490 and 1500, based on the horseman's dress, and considers it possibly one of Provost's earliest works; calls its style "heavy and sluggish," but comments on the "unconventional aspects" of the composition.
M. J. Friedländer inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 27, Leipzig, 1933, p. 429.
Guy C. Bauman inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 65–67, no. 21, ill. (color), dates it about 1495; observes that it fits logically into Provost's stylistic development and offers, in embryonic form, numerous formal qualities and physical types analogous to those in later works.
Guy Bauman inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1983–1984. New York, 1984, pp. 52–53, 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. 136–37, no. 19, ill. (color)
, catalogues it as "Attributed to Jan Provost," about 1495, adding that it is one of the earliest known works attributable to the artist.