Matthias Walbaum German
Miniatures by Anton Mozart German

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 520

A splendid showcase of multiple materials and techniques, this miniature triptych was designed to inspire the private devotions of its owner (perhaps one of the Cardinals Madruzzo, successive Prince-Bishops of Trent). With precious metal tracery applied to expensive ebony, its hinged wooden doors invite handling. They lead not into a tiny Gothic chapel but onto an illusionistic nighttime landscape, busy with worshippers adoring the Christ Child. Atop the shrine is a Visitation scene with figures of Saints Anne and Elizabeth and an announcing angel. The doors open into a miniature triptych painted in gouache by Anton Mozart, with the Nativity at the center, the Presentation on the right wing, and the Circumcision on the left. A tiny panel illustrating the Flight into Egypt forms the predella. On the stem of the shrine a Christ in silver bears his cross to Calvary; beneath, his collapsed figure hangs from his mother's arms in a Pietà. On the four sides of the base, the Evangelists, identified by their attributes, record the events pictured above. Both artists signed this glorious collaboration; Walbaum, as one of wealthy Augsburg’s most renowned goldsmiths, would probably have been the more vaunted of the two. Walbaum and Mozart worked together on at least one other, strikingly similar, miniature triptych.

Shrine, Matthias Walbaum (German, Kiel 1554–1632 Augsburg), Ebony, silver, gilded silver, gouache on parchment, German, Augsburg

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With panels closed