Artist: Circle of Peter Hemmel von Andlau (Strassburger Werkstattgemeinschaft) (active Southern and Central Germany, ca. 1470–1500)
Geography: Made in Munich, Germany
Medium: Pot metal and colorless glass, vitreous paint, and silver stain
Dimensions: Overall: 28 1/2 x 18 x 3/8 in. (72.4 x 45.7 x 1 cm)
Credit Line: Ruth and Victoria Blumka Memorial Fund and The Cloisters Collection, 1996
Accession Number: 1996.262
The style of this panel—characterized by weighty figures, individualized facial types, a vivid palette, and an interest in rich textures—is typical of South German glass painting, in general, while the slightly coarse, earthy aspect of the visages, the elongation of the figures, and the broad planes of their drapery, separated by tight tubular folds, are most specific to Oberbayern, and can be seen in the works of contemporary panel painters such as Jan Pollack and Mair von Landshut. The arrangement of the present composition, in which the principal scene is separated from a deeply recessed landscape by a wall, or other barrier, and the use of a single piece of glass for each compositional element, follow formal devices already established by Nuremberg glass painters in the late 1480s. Other features, however—particularly in the Virgin's face, with arched eyebrows, lower eyelids lined with stickwork, single line of the lips, and nubby chin—are typical of the style of the Strassburger Werkstattgemeinschaft, a loose association of glass painters directed by the highly gifted Peter Hemmel von Andlau that operated in numerous sites across southern and central Europe, from Strasbourg to Vienna, between 1477 and 1499. Although no windows by the Strassburger Werkstattgemeinschaft are documented after 1499, the Metropolitan's panel stylistically and technically reflects the influence of the association's production—notably, in the extensive use of the stylus and of stickwork to model the highly textured mattes, and in the liberal application of silver satin. The present composition relies on Martin Schongauer's engraved version of the subject (of about 1475) and even quotes certain details, such as the hats of Melchior and Caspar—an indication of the generally conservative nature of the panel.
The panel's provenance is uncertain, but known Munich commissions for cycles of glass in 1507 include those for the Frauenkirche and the Salvatorkirche, as well as for the Schlosskapelle in Blutenburg. Nothing is known of the donor or commissioner, Hans Schwinli of Munich.