Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Balthasar of the Three Kings from an Adoration Group

before 1489
Made in Swabia, Germany
Poplar, paint and gilt
64 1/2 × 25 × 13 1/2 in., 68 lb. (163.8 × 63.5 × 34.3 cm, 30.8 kg)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1952
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 20
These three kings (52.83.1–.3), along with a seated Virgin and Child, formed the central shrine of a large altarpiece flanked by wings illustrating scenes from the life of the Virgin painted by Hans Schüchlin (act. Ulm 1469–1505). One of the wings is dated 1489 and bears the name of the donor, Margarethe, daughter of Margrave Karl I of Baden and Katharina of Austria, a sister of Emperor Frederick III. Margarethe was the abbess of Lichtenthal from 1477 until her death in 1496. Represented on the outer sides of the wings are the Annunciation and the Visitation, and on the inner sides, the Birth of the Virgin and the Death of the Virgin. The elegant attenuated figures with balletic stances and the broad drapery patterns suggest a sculptor trained in Ulm and were probably executed somewhat earlier than the painted wings.
From the dimensions of the wings, we know that the central shrine was over seven feet high and over nine feet wide. Such dimensions would allow for the ancillary figures and the architectural tracery that surmounted the scene. The altarpiece was dismantled in the
eighteenth century; the Virgin and Child are still in the convent for which the altar was made, and the two painted wings are in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe. The other figures are now lost.
From the high altar of the Cistercian abbey, Lichtenthal, near Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg; Dutch or German Private Collection ; [ Sotheby's, London(July 28, 1939, no. 103) ] ; [ John Hunt, Ireland (1939–sold 1952)]
Cologne. Museum Schnütgen. "Die Heiligen Drei Könige: Mythos, Kunst und Kult," October 25, 2014–January 25, 2015.

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Huth, Hans. "Ein Verlorener Stich des Meisters E.S.." In Adolph Goldschmidt zu seinem siebenzigsten Geburtstag, am Januar 1933. Berlin: Wurfel Verlag, 1935. pp. 74-76.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighty-Third Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1952-1953." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 12, no. 4 (Summer 1953). p. 17.

Rorimer, James J. "Three Kings from Lichtenthal." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, no. 4 (December 1953). pp. 81-91.

Rorimer, James J. The Cloisters: The Building and the Collection of Medieval Art in Fort Tryon Park. 3rd revised ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1963. p. 200, fig. 98.

Lauts, Jan. Schwäbischer Meister 1489: Geburt und Tod Mariä, zwei Altarflügel aus Kloster Lichtenthal. Karlsruhe: Staatliche Kunsthalle, 1966. fig. 10.

Müller, Theodor. Sculpture in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966. p. 110.

Petrasch, Ernst, ed. Spätgotik am Oberrhein: Meisterwerke der Plastik und des Kunsthandwerks, 1450-1530. Karlsruhe: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, 1970. no. 107, p. 157, fig. 99.

Petrasch, Ernst. "Spätgotik am Oberrhein: Meisterwerke der Plastik und des Kunsthandwerks 1450-1530." Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen in Baden-Württemberg 9 (1972). pp. 133-34, fig. 34.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 136, p. 148.

Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at The Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 46, no. 3 (Winter 1988-1989). pp. 18-19.

Young, Bonnie. A Walk Through The Cloisters. 5th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988. p. 135.

Vey, Horst, Dietmar Lüdke, and Ines Dresel. Christus und Maria : Auslegungen christlicher Gemälde der Spätgotik und Frührenaissance aus der Karlsruher Kunsthalle : Ausstellung 6. Juni bis 20. September 1992, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe: Staatliche Kunsthalle, 1992. pp. 93-94, fig. 106.

Von der Erde zum Himmel: Heiligendarstellungen des Spätmittelalters aus dem Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum: Eine Ausstellung des Suermondt-Ludwig-Museums im Krönungssaal des Aachener Rathauses, 17. Juni-8. August 1993. Aachen: Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, 1993. p. 78.

Fisher, Sally. The Square Halo and Other Mysteries of Western Art: Images and the Stories that Inspire Them. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995. p. 58.

Krimm, Konrad. "Die Markgrafen von Baden und ihr Hauskloster im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert." In 750 Jahre Zisterzienserinnen-Abtei Lichtenthal Faszination eines Klosters: Ausstellung des Badischen Landesmuseum, 25. Februar bis 21. Mai, 1995, Karlsruhe Schloss, edited by Harald Siebenmorgen. Karlsruhe: Badisches Landesmuseum, 1995. pp. 73-75.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 150.

Kargère, Lucretia Goddard, and Michele D. Marincola. "Conservation in Context: The Examination and Treatment of Medieval Polychrome Wood Sculpture in the United States." Metropolitan Museum Studies in Art, Science, and Technology 2 (2014). pp. 12, 21, 32, fig. 1, 11, 19.

Beer, Manuela, and Moritz Woelk, ed. The Magi: Legend, Art and Cult. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2014. no. 122, pp. 21, 304-5.

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