Based on their close stylistic relationship with the central panel of the altarpiece of the Feeding of the Ten Thousand (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne), these diminutive panels are attributed to the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine, a follower of Rogier van der Weyden in Brussels. They once formed part of a larger ensemble of which the remainder is no longer extant. In addition to the two individual saints, the Mass of Saint Gregory illustrates the miraculous event during which the consecrated host became the living body of the suffering Christ, surrounded by the instruments of his Passion.
Christophe Rhaban Ruhl, Cologne (by 1863–76; said to have been purchased from an Austrian ambassador to Spain; his estate sale, Heberlé and Van Pappelendam & Schouten, Cologne, May 15, 1876, no. 21, as by Memling); Edward Habich, Kassel (by 1883–92; on loan to Königliche Gemäldegalerie, Kassel [now Staatliche Museen Kassel], in 1883; sale, Lempertz and Schall, Kassel, May 9–10, 1892, no. 47, as by the School of Jan van Eyck); Hoesch; [Sedelmeyer, Paris, Cat. 1895, no. 22, as by Memling]; Edmond Huybrechts, Antwerp (until 1902; his estate sale, Le Roy and Delehaye, Antwerp, May 12–15, 1902, no. 28, as by Memling, for Fr 16.000); William H. Herriman, Rome (1902–21)
Bruges. Palais du Gouvernement. "Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien," June 15–September 15, 1902, no. 87 (as the Mass of Saint Gregory, Saint Michael, and Saint Jerome, by Hans Memling, lent by M. Herriman, Rome).
G. Parthey. Deutscher Bildersaal. Vol. 1, A–K. Berlin, 1863, p. 415, lists this picture as "The Mass of Saint Gregory, Saints Michael and Damian," by Jan van Eyck, in the collection of Raban Rühl, Cologne.
W. H. James Weale. Hans Memlinc: A Notice of His Life and Works. [London], 1865, p. 19, refers to them as "most exquisite gem-like pictures [by Memling], beautifully preserved".
[D.] Eisenmann. "Cassel: Königliche Gemäldegalerie." Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 4 (1883), col. 74, refers to it as a work from the school of Jan van Eyck from about 1450 that was formerly, incorrectly, attributed to Hans Memling; notes that it was among a group of pictures lent from the Habich collection to the Königliche Gemäldegalerie, Kassel [now Staatliche Museen Kassel].
Illustrated Catalogue of the Second Hundred of Paintings by Old Masters . . . Belonging to the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1895, p. 26, no. 22, ill., ascribes it to Hans Memling.
Henri Hymans. "L'exposition des primitifs flamands à Bruges (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 28 (August 1902), p. 64.
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. 20, no. 87, ascribes it to an unknown painter from the school of Rogier van der Weyden.
W. H. James Weale. Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien, Bruges. Première section: tableaux. Catalogue. Exh. cat., Palais du Gouvernement. Bruges, 1902, p. 37, no. 87, lists it as by Hans Memling, but notes (p. XXX) that all attributions given in the catalogue are those provided by owners; as purchased in Spain by an Austrian ambassador.
J. Whitby. "The Huybrechts Collection Recently Sold at Antwerp." Connoisseur 4 (1902), pp. 15, 20, ill.
Max J. Friedländer. "Die Brügger Leihausstellung von 1902." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 26 (1903), p. 75, finds these panels similar in style to a group of works he attributes to a master active in Bruges in the middle of the 15th century; notes, however, that it is a weak picture, greatly overestimated in the early literature, and not at the same level as the other works associated with this hand.
Salomon Reinach. Répertoire de peintures du moyen age et de la renaissance (1280–1580). Vol. 2, Paris, 1907, p. 616, ill. (engraving).
M[anuel]. Gómez-Moreno Holt, Rinehart and Winston. "Un trésor de peintures inédites du XVe siècle à Grenade." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 40 (1908), p. 308, identifies as an exact replica of a larger panel in the Capilla Real, Granada, a panel with the Mystic Mass of Saint Gregory (presumably this picture) shown at the exhibition in Bruges , where it was ascribed to Gerard David [actually Hans Memling].
H[arry]. B. W[ehle]. "Bequests of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (December 1921), p. 263, mentions it as part of the Herriman bequest, calling it the work of an unidentified Flemish master working near the end of the 15th century, a member of the Bruges school, and a follower of Memling.
Antonio Gallego y Burín. La Capilla Real de Granada. Granada, 1931, p. 113 [2nd ed., 1952, p. 90], mentions the central panel as an almost exact copy of the picture in the Capilla Real; notes that Hulin de Loo confided to him in a recent visit to the Capilla Real that he believed the picture shown at Bruges [the present work] to be by the Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy.
Erwin Panofsky. "The Friedsam Annunciation and the Problem of the Ghent Altarpiece." Art Bulletin 17 (December 1935), p. 465, fig. 31 (Mystic Mass of Saint Gregory), notes that the retable in the Mass of Saint Gregory is almost a retranslation of the "upper triptych" of the Ghent altarpiece.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 72–73, ill., as by a follower of Memling from the second half of the fifteenth century.
Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, vol. 1, p. 346, ascribes these panels to a Bruges master of about 1490, noting that at the end of the 15th century, the weight of tradition kept the Flemings from "going 'Baroque'"; sees in our small panels a "slightly mannered compromise".
Rudolf Berliner. "Arma Christi." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 6 (1955), p. 133 n. 360.
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, p. 94, comments on similarities to the art of Marmion and of northern France in general.
Roger van Schoute. La Chapelle Royale de Grenade: Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 6. Brussels, 1963, p. 118, nos. 2, 3, lists it as a replica of the Mystic Mass of Saint Gregory in the Capilla Real, Granada.
Colin Thompson. Letter to Theodore Rousseau. October 9, 1967, notes that [Giovanni] Carandente ascribes this tritych to the same hand as the Pieta at the National Gallery at Edinburgh [inv. no. 1642], along with several other works.
Anja Sibylle Steinmetz. Das Altarretabel in der Altniederländischen Malerei. PhD diss., Universität Köln. Weimar, 1995, pp. 98–99, 266 nn. 270–73.
Didier Martens. "Les deux triptyques jumeaux du Maître de la Légende de Saint Catherine: Analyse des sources et chronologie relative." Belgisch tijdschrift voor oudheidkunde en kunstgeschiedenis 66 (1997), pp. 35–73 [see Ref. Steyaert 2003], ascribes the panel with the Mystic Mass of Saint Gregory to a painter in the immediate circle of the Master of the Saint Catherine Legend; dates it after the two other versions of the composition attributed to the Master and relates all three versions to a prototype by the Master of Flémalle [see M. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. 2, 1967, no. 73a and Add. no. 150].
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. 404, ill., attribute it to a "Netherlandish Painter, second half of 15th century".
Griet Steyaert Vrije Universiteit, Brussels. "De Brusselse schilderschool na Rogier van der Weyden: De meester van de Sint-Catharina-legende." Unpublished draft for dissertation. 2003, ill. in color (overall and details), ascribes these panels to the Master of the Saint Catherine Legend, based on their close relationship with the central panel of the altarpiece with the Feeding of the Ten Thousand (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne) and notes that their underdrawing is characteristic of the artist; dates them about 1480–1500 based on similarities with the Melbourne altarpiece; suggests that the panels with Saint Michael and Saint Jerome were originally on the left side of a poliptych, possibly placed one above the other, while the Mystic Mass of Saint Gregory was probably on the right side; suggests that the Mystic Mass paintings were a serial production and questions Martens's assumption [see Ref. 1997] of an evolutionary relationship among the three extant versions of the composition.