About This Artwork

South German

Triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints, 1505/15

Oil and tempera on panel
Center: 54 7/8 x 40 11/16 in. (139.5 x 103.3 cm)
Painted surface: 53 15/16 x 39 3/4 in. (137 x 101 cm)
Left wing, painted surface: 54 1/16 x 16 5/8 in. (137.5 x 41.9 cm)
Right wing, painted surface: 53 15/16 x 16 3/8 in. (137 x 41.6 cm)
Inscribed: Center panel: ·SCA·CECILIA, ·SA·AGATHA, ·SA· MARGARE-TA, ·SCA·LVCIA, ·SA·BARBARA, ·S·APPOLONIA [sic] (on ha-los from left to right), HR· (on Saint Barbara’s belt), ihs (on Saint Apollonia’s bodice); left wing: ·SA·VRSVLA (on halo), GGGGG (on belt of virgin at lower left), GHOV[O] (on hemline of virgin at lower right), Crucifige (exterior, twice on banderoles); right wing: SA·AGNETIS (on halo), Innocens ego / sum a sanguin[e] / iusn huius (exterior, on banderole)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1065

In this triptych, the Virgin, crowned as the queen of heaven, is surrounded by virgin saints in a garden that evokes paradise. Singled out on the left wing is Saint Ursula, thought to have been a British princess who set out on a pilgrimage to Rome, only to be martyred along with a throng of her virgin companions. Saint Agnes, another martyr of the early Christian era, is on the right wing. The triptych’s focus on youthful, female saints and its lyrical, slightly naive painting style suggest that it was made for a community of nuns. The gold framing arches refer to the combination of gilded sculpture and painting that was a common feature of German altarpieces in this period.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1933, no. 32, as Sebastian Schel.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1934, no. 20, as Sebastian Schel.

Publication History

“Loan Collections,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 7 (1914), p. 38.

Rose Mary Fischkin, “Martin A. Ryerson Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, XIII to XVII Century, Loaned to The Art Institute of Chicago,” unpub. MS, 1926, Ryerson Library, The Art Institute of Chicago, pp. 129–31.

J. Ringler, “Scheel (Schel, Schöll), Sebas-tian,” in Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Leipzig, vol. 29, 1935, p. 597.

Charles L. Kuhn, A Catalogue of German Paintings of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in American Collections, Cambridge, Mass., 1936, p. 76, no. 335, pl. 66.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection, 1961, p. 176.

Gisela Mayr, “Sebastian Schel (um 1480–1554): Leben und Werk,” Ph.D. diss., Universität Innsbruck, 1967, pp. 152–54. Maxon 1970, pp. 253 (ill.), 286.

Martha Wolff in Martha Wolff et al., Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2008, pp. 414-19, ill.

Mary Mathews Gedo, “Camille Ascendant; Camille Redux,” Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artists Life, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010. p. 158, fig. 10.4.

Ownership History

Julius Böhler, Munich, by 1913 [according to registrar’s records]; sold to Martin A. Ryerson (d. 1932), Chicago, 1913; bequeathed to the AIC, 1933.

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