Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Christ among the Doctors

Spanish (Catalan) Painter (early 15th century)
Tempera and gold on wood
44 x 30 in. (111.8 x 76.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
Not on view
Monsieur de Mandolx, Dijon (until 1924); [Kleinberger, Paris, 1924–25; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1925–d. 1931)
New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Loan Exhibition of French Primitives and Objects of Art," October 17–November 12, 1927, no. 10 (as "Jesus Preaching Among the Doctors," by Jean Malouel, lent by Colonel M. Friedsam).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.

New York. Museum of Biblical Art. "Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians, and the Altarpieces of Medieval Spain," February 19–May 30, 2010, unnum. checklist (fig. 42).

Louis Réau. "Une collection de primitifs français en Amérique." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 13 (January 1926), p. 6, ill. p. 7, calls the figures a bit caricaturish and simiilar to the Legend of Saint George panels [by Bernardo Martorell] at the Louvre.

Frank E. Washburn Freund. "Kunstpflege in Amerika." Der Cicerone 19 (1927), p. 732, comments on the artist's struggle to portray an interior space.

Louis Réau in Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of French Primitives. Exh. cat., New York. New York, 1927, pp. 34–35, no. 10, ill., attributes it to Jean Malouel but raises the possibility that it is by Henri Bellechose; finds similarities between the crowded figures of the doctors and the figures in the Louvre's "Legend of Saint George" [then regarded as a work by Bellechose, now attributed to Bernardo Martorell]; assigns it to the Burgundian school of the first half of the 15th century.

[O. von] F[alke]. and [A.L.] M[ayer]. "New York: Französische Primitive bei Kleinberger." Pantheon 1 (January 1928), p. 52, reject attribution to Malouel and call it Catalan, interesting for its depiction of a synagogue.

Louis Réau in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 165, attributes it to Jean Malouel.

Katharine Grant Sterne. "The French Primitives in the Friedsam Collection." Parnassus 4 (January 1932), p. 9, describes it as in the Malouel tradition, but closer to Bellechose.

Chandler Rathfon Post. A History of Spanish Painting. Vol. 4, The Hispano-Flemish Style in Northwestern Spain. Cambridge, Mass., 1933, part 2, pp. 554, 556, fig. 221, attributes it to the School of the Master of Saint George [Martorell]; notes that if it is by the Master himself, rather than a follower, then it is from late in his career; finds the figure types identical to those in the artist's altarpiece of the Saints John [formerly in the church of Vinaixa, now divided between the Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Museu Diocesà de Tarragona, and an unknown location]; remarks that "the composition is so quaintly original that it is unlikely that the author was familiar with any traditional iconography for the theme".

Chandler Rathfon Post. Letter. November 18, 1939, attributes it to Martorell's workshop.

Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 216, ill., as by an unknown Catalan painter, from the first half of the 15th century; sees a resemblance to Martorell's Saint George panels (Louvre) and attributes it to one of his followers.

Charles Jacques [Charles Sterling]. Les peintres du Moyen Age. Paris, 1941, p. 16, no. 24, calls the halo type particularly characteristic of Catalan painting.

Judith Berg Sobré. Behind the Altar Table: The Development of the Painted Retable in Spain, 1350–1500. Columbia, Mo., 1989, p. 171, fig. 114, attributes it to a Catalan master, most likely painted during the second decade of the 15th century; interprets it as an example of Catholic anti-Semitic propaganda in which "Christ is shown in a synagogue, disputing against a group of Jewish rabbis and cheered on by the Virgin and Joseph"; relates the subject to the early 15th century practice of obliging a rabbi to defend Judaism in an organized dispute against a Christian theologian.

Vivian B. Mann in Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians, and the Altarpieces of Medieval Spain. Ed. Vivian B. Mann. Exh. cat., Museum of Biblical Art. New York, 2010, pp. 96, 157, fig. 42, ill. p. 102 and frontispiece (color, overall and details).

This panel is generally thought to be by a follower of the Catalan painter Bernardo Martorell, also known as the Master of Saint George, active in Barcelona ca. 1427–52.
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