Richard von Kaufmann, Berlin (until 1917; sale, Paul Cassirer, Berlin, December 4 and following days, 1917, no. 110, as by "Jan Joest van Calcar?," to Haniel); F. Haniel, Düsseldorf (1917–after 1964); Mrs. Lieven (until 1967; [apparently with Herbert Ritter, Munich, acting as agent] sale, Christie's, London, June 23, 1967, no. 73, as by the Master of Frankfurt, to Linsky); Jack and Belle Linsky, New York (1967–his d. 1980); The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation (1980–82)
Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, pp. 139–40, mentions this picture in the von Kaufmann collection, noting that it repeats the essential elements of a painting from the same collection by Barthel Bruyn; is convinced that these pictures are based on a lost work of Jan Joest; states that the same lost composition was copied by the Master of Frankfurt in a panel in the Museum at Valenciennes (Musée des Beaux-Arts).
Max J. Friedländer. "Der Meister von Frankfurt." Jahrbuch ber Königlich Preuszischen Kunstsammlungen 38 (1917), p. 142.
Max J. Friedländer. "Die niederländischen, französischen und deutschen Gemälde." Die Sammlung Richard von Kaufmann, Berlin. Cassirer and Helbing, Berlin. Vol. 2, December 4, 1917, pp. 215–17, no. 110, ill., catalogues it as "Jan Joest van Calcar (?)".
Ludwig von Baldass. "Mabuses 'Heilige Nacht,' eine freie Kopie nach Hugo van der Goes." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien 35 (1920–21), p. 46.
Jakob Rosenberg in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 18, Leipzig, 1925, p. 377.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 9, Joos van Cleve, Jan Provost, Joachim Patenier. Berlin, 1931, pp. 17–18, 126, no. 4a, pl. 14, notes that there are five other paintings with similar compositions and infers that all six pictures must depend on a lost original by Jan Joest, the present picture being the most faithful surviving version.
G. J. Hoogewerff. De noord-nederlandsche schilderkunst. Vol. 2, The Hague, 1937, pp. 447–48, observes that attribution to Jan Joest must remain uncertain.
Max J. Friedländer. "Eine Zeichnung von Jan Joest von Kalkar." Oud-Holland 72 (1940), pp. 162, 165, fig. 5, as "Jan Joest von Kalkar, Kopie?"; relates it to a drawing (fig. 1) in the Hermitage, Leningrad, previously ascribed to Barthel Bruyn, but which he finds closer to works ascribed to Jan Joest.
Alfred Stange. Deutsche Malerei der Gotik. Vol. 6, Nordwestdeutschland in der Zeit von 1450 bis 1515. Munich, 1954, p. 67, pl. 126, as by Jan Joest; implies a date of about 1515.
Max J. Friedländer. Early Netherlandish Painting: From van Eyck to Bruegel. Ed. F. Grossmann. English ed. [first ed. 1916]. New York, 1956, pp. 108–9.
Friedrich Winkler. Das Werk des Hugo van der Goes. Berlin, 1964, p. 153, suggests that this composition derives from a lost nocturnal Nativity by Hugo van der Goes.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 9, part 1, Joos van Cleve, Jan Provost, Joachim Patenier. New York, 1972, pp. 15, 52, no. 4a, pl. 2.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 9, part 2, Joos van Cleve, Jan Provost, Joachim Patenier. New York, 1973, pp. 89–90, 113, no. 148, pl. 148.
Stephen H. Goddard. "The Master of Frankfurt and his Shop." PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1983, pp. 146–47, 343, fig. 42, calls an attribution to Jan Joest "hard to accept" and attributes it and the example of this composition in the Lehman collection [MMA 1975.1.116] to the "Watervliet painter," an assistant within Joest's workshop who produced the Deposition triptych in the church of our Lady, Watervliet, Belgium.
Guy C. Bauman in The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 67–70, no. 22, observes that of the eight known versions of this composition, the Linsky Nativity is unique for its inclusion of the chorus of six angels with a banderole, "evidently an invention of the artist"; concludes that our panel is "the work of an independent artist from the orbit of Jan Joest active about 1514, probably in Antwerp".
Stephen H. Goddard. "Brocade Patterns in the Shop of the Master of Frankfurt: An Accessory to Stylistic Analysis." Art Bulletin 67 (September 1985), pp. 409, 416, fig. 11 (detail), attributes it to the workshop of the Master of Frankfurt on the basis of the brocade pattern which he regards as "shop specific," and on stylistic grounds.
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. 220, 244–46, no. 59, ill. (color), dates it about 1515 and ascribes it to a follower of Jan Joest of Kalkar; notes that there are at least ten paintings and two drawings that repeat this basic composition.
Martha Wolff in The Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings. New York, 1998, pp. 98–99, finds only the most tenuous connection to the Master of Frankfurt in this picture, commenting on the use of different facial types and a more transparent paint application; attributes the Lehman composition to the Workshop of the Master of Frankfurt.
Andrew S. Levitas and Cheryl S. Reid. "An Angel with Down Syndrome in a Sixteenth Century Flemish Nativity Painting." American Journal of Medical Genetics 116 (2003), pp. 399–405, figs. 1–3 (overall and details), propose that two of the figures depicted (the angel next to Mary and an earthly admirer in the center behind the angels) show facial abnormalities associated with Down syndrome and mental retardation; suggest that the painting could be one of the earliest European representations of the syndrome.
Tim Cornwell. "Challenging the Attitudes to Down's Syndrome through Art." Scotsman.com. March 19, 2009 [http://living.scotsman.com/tim-cornwell/Challenging-the-attitudes-to-Down39s.5086722.jp].
Susan Urbach. Early Netherlandish Paintings. London, 2015, vol. 2, pp. 122, 124, under no. 37.