Index of Selected Artists in the Collection

Erhard Altdorfer (German, ca. 1480-1561)
Mary Magdalen Healing the Wife and Son of the Prince of Marseilles, 1519
Mary Magdalen Appearing at the Battle of Bornhöved, 1519
Oil on oak panel
37 5/8 x 19 1/8 in. (95.5 x 48.6 cm)
38 x 19 1/8 in. (96.5 x 48.6 cm)
R. T. Miller Jr. Fund, 1941
AMAM 1941.73 and 1941.74


Two panels with scenes of the life of Mary Magdalene, previously identified as by a South German or Swiss artist, have been recognized by researchers in Germany as part of a multi-panel altarpiece comprised of sculpted wood and paintings. The paintings are now attributed to Erhard Altdorfer (about 1480-1561), brother of the more famous artist Albrecht Altdorfer, known particularly for his landscapes. Katrin Petersen, a student at the University of Kiel—building on earlier research by Dr. Kurt Löcher and Max Hasse and working under Uwe Albrecht—contacted the AMAM in 2008 to share the discoveries.

Erhard Altdorfer worked in Regensburg, Bavaria, as well as in Schwerin, near Lübeck in northern Germany, where the altarpiece now resides. The AMAM’s panels, which date to 1519, show the Magdalene aiding in the healing of the wife and son of the Prince of Marseilles and—as newly identified by our German colleagues—appearing at the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227, when troops from Lübeck and Hamburg defeated Denmark.

The paintings, which entered the AMAM’s collection in 1941, had previously been exhibited in Switzerland as by a Swiss artist. Once in the AMAM’s collection, they were considered as originating from the Swabian-Swiss border region around Lake Constance. In fact, the panels are from Lübeck and were likely painted by Altdorfer when he lived near there.

Provenance:
Formerly part of an altarpiece once in the Burgkirche, Lübeck and now in the St.-Annen Museum, Lübeck, partially dismembered prior to 1936;
Count Wilczek, Castle Kreuzenstein near Vienna;
E. and A. Silberman Galleries, by 1941, purchased from Count Wilczek;
Allen Memorial Art Museum, purchased from Silberman Galleries.

Exhibitions:
Swiss Painting from the 15th to the 18th Centuries, Bern Art Museum, Bern, Switzerland, 1936, p. 22, nos. 59-60

Literature:
Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. Oberlin, 1967, pp. 62-63, figs. 36-37

Löcher, Kurt. Zeitschrift des Vereins für Lübeckische Geschichte und Altertumskunde. vol. 73, 1993, pp. 23-37 and vol. 74, 1994, pp. 323-328

Albrecht, Uwe. Corpus des mittelalterlichen Holzskulptur und Tafelmalerei in Schleswig-Holstein. Bd. 1, Hansestadt Lübeck, St. Annen Museum, Kiel, 2005, pp. 430-439