This painting was the central panel of a triptych dedicated to Saint Augustine (354–430), a Christian theologian so celebrated that he is sometimes called a Doctor of the Church. The composition is divided into five scenes: in the center, Saint Augustine is consecrated bishop of Hippo Regius, a Roman city in present-day Algeria; in the upper left, Saint Augustine is ordained as a priest; in the lower left, Saint Augustine preaches while his mother, Monica, anachronistically says the rosary, a prayer regimen of the late Middle Ages. At the upper right, Saint Augustine converses with a boy who says that filling a hole in the sand with the sea is no more difficult than explaining the Trinity; and in the lower right, Saint Augustine preaches. In the windows behind the altar at the right are kneeling figures of a man and woman, along with coats of arms. Might these be clues to the original place for which the altarpiece was created, or are they pure inventions? Of particular interest in this panel are the detailed and richly depicted varieties of ecclesiastical vestments and altar implements, many examples of which are similar to works displayed in the Cloisters’ Treasury.
Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl of Exeter, Burghley House, near Stamford, Northamptonshire (by 1847) ; William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Exeter 1825–1895, Burghley House, near Stamford Northamptonshire (until 1888) ; Marquis of Exeter sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London (June 9, 1888, no. 295, to Murray) ; Charles Fairfax Murray British, London 1849–1919 London (in 1888) ; Charles Butler, London (in 1891) ; anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris (June 16, 1892) ; Comtesse de Béarn, Paris (after 1895) ; [ Nikolaus Steinmeyer, Cologne (1901)] ; Charles T. Yerkes, New York (1901–10) ; his sale, American Art Association, New York (April 5–8, 1910, no. 18, to Böhler) ; [ Julius Wilhelm Böhler, Munich (in 1910)] ; [possibly Fritz von Ansbach, Frankfurt (in 1910)?] ; Fritz von Gans, Frankfurt (before 1921) ; [ Kurt Walter Bachstitz, The Hague (1921–24)] ; Alfred W. Erickson, New York (1925–d. 1936) ; his widow, Anna E. Erickson, New York (1936–d. 1961) ; her estate sale, Park-Bernet, New York American (November 11–14, 1961, no. 10)
Leeds City Museum. "National Exhibition of Works of Art," 1868.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," January–March 1891.
The Hague. Bachstitz Gallery. "Exhibition of Primitiv [sic] Masters," 1922.
New York. P. Jackson Higgs. "A special exhibition of Italian, Dutch, and Spanish Paintings from Bachstitz of The Hague," 1924.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 16.
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection," May 1–October 18, 2015.