Cranach - Altarpiece of the Virgin [central panel]: The Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon Venerated by Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg
Altarpiece of the Virgin [central panel]: The Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon Venerated by Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg
Master of the Mass of St Gregory
Evangelische Marktkirchengemeinde Halle
16.05.2022 - 07:44
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberDE_MKH_NONE-MKH001a
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FRSup006A
Altarpiece of the Virgin [central panel]: The Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon Venerated by Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg[cda 2015]
Master of the Mass of St Gregory [Emmendörffer 1998, 218][Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, no. Sup6A]
Simon Franck [Matauschek 2016, 108] [Krause 2013, 29] [Kramer 2012, 7] [Tacke 1992, 47-56]
Hans Cranach [Flechsig 1900 A, 281]
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1529[dated on second movable wing on the left]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerEvangelische Marktkirchengemeinde Halle
RepositoryEvangelische Marktkirchengemeinde Halle
Dimensions of painted surface: 264 x 209.4 cm
Dimension including frame: 284 x 229.4 cm
[Heydenreich, cda 2015]
Painting on wood
[cda 2015]
Signature / Date:
[cda 2015]
The Virgin sits on the crescent moon in a golden aureole surrounded by a garland of angels. She has a crown on her head and wears a red dress under a greenish-blue cloak. She holds the naked child standing on her knee with both hands. With his right hand he holds out a book to Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, who is dressed in red and kneels on a cushion at the bottom left. At the bottom right there is a mountainous landscape.
[Flechsig 1900 B, 29]
- the panel is dated 1529, but its early history still remains uncertain: it may initially have been installed in the Collegiate Church (Stiftskirche) in Halle before being moved slightly later to the Marktkirche. The exact date remains a matter of debate.
- according to an entry in the account books the altarpiece was already in place in the Marktkirche by 1540.
- in 1841 it was dismantled and replaced by the so-called Hübner-Altar; the panels were then displayed in the church as single units and the original frame was lost.
- in 1942 during the WW2 the altarpiece was evacuated to Niemberg
- in 1943 the predella was transferred to Petersberg
- in 1945 the predella was tranferred to Wiesbaden
- in 1948 the altarpiece (excluding the predella) was returned to the Marktkirche
- the predella was returned in 1961
- in 1984 the altarpiece was finally installed in its present position after a burst pipe in the church ocasioned comprehensive renovation and conservation
[Matauschek 2016, 109, 110]
- Dresden 1899, No. 102
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Rüber-Schütte 201695-123
Matauschek 2016
Tacke 201586
Kramer 2012
Heydenreich 2007 B39-40
Tacke 2007 C81, 82, 84
Münch 2007125
Hauschke 2007181
Exhib. Cat. Halle 2006307
Exhib. Cat. Prague 200566, 116 (English version 29, 44, 45)under nos. 8, 30
Emmendörffer 1998218
Tacke 199247-5619-23
Flechsig 1900 A131
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 1994
  • Technical Examination
  • 8.04 Paint Layers and Gilding
  • - decorative motifs were scratched into the top red glaze layer with the handle of the brush
    - there is a painted black line parallel to the edge of the painted surface at the left
  • 8.05 Framing
  • - the frame with inserted gilded profile is not original, but possibly 19th century
    • examined by: Gunnar Heydenreich
    Condition Reports:
    • Date: 2016
    • The condition of the altarpiece varies considerably from panel to panel. The wing panels painted on both sides appear to be less problematical. Many of the panels transferred to new supports exhibit more recent damage (paint loss and tenting).
      See [Matauschek 2016, 116-118] for a full report.
      • Date: 1979
      • Frequent reports of warping and blisters in the paint layers
        [Matauschek 2016, 115]
        • Date: 1967
        • Description of the damage caused by the burst pipe
          [Matauschek 2016, 114, 115]
          • Date: 1949
          • - report of condition after return from Niemberg; first mention of loss in the face of St Erasmus
            [Matauschek 2016, 113]
            • Date: 27.04.1885
            • Evaluation of the condition:
              the altarpiece was moved to accomodate Hübner's new altarpiece: the wing panel depicting St Catherine and both sides of the panel depicting St John and St Maurice exhibited bands of flaking and paint loss. Conservation and reinstallment was recommended.
              [Matauschek 2016, 112]
            • examined by: Hugo von Tschudis
            • Date: 23.03.1881
            • Evaluation of the condition regarding the possible loan to the Dresden Cranach exhibition in1899. According to W. Böhm (restorer at the Gemäldegalerie, Königliche Museen Berlin) the panels exhibited splits and blistering that were limited to the draperies and background. However, should the panels be lent this damage could extend to the faces and hands.
              [Matauschek 2016, 112]
              History of Restoration:
              • Date: 2015
              • Conservation treatment
                [Matauschek 2016, 123, Fn. 110]
              • conservation treatment by: Jana Bösenberg
              • Date: 2009 - 2010
              • Paint layers:
                - surface cleaning and consolidation of flaking paint
                [Matauschek 2016, 116]
                • Date: 1980 - 1981
                • Support:
                  - the painting was transferred from the thinned oak panel to a new a new support, consisting of a blockboard in three pieces.
                  Paint layers:
                  - consolidated with wax
                  - old retouches and varnish removed
                  - losses were filled and retouched
                  - dammar and wax brush appplication
                  [Matauschek 2016, 15]
                  • Date: 1967
                  • The blooming of the varnish caused by the excess moisture in the atmosphere after the pipe burst was regenerated using the Pettenkofer process (whereby the blanched painting was exposed to alcohol vapour and copaiba balsam).
                    [Matauschek 2016, 115]
                    • Date: 1964
                    • - consolidation with casein
                      [Matauschek 2016, 114]
                      • Date: 1953 - 1959
                      • - consolidation with casein
                        [Matauschek 2016, 114]
                        • Date: 1899
                        • In preparation for the Cranach exhibition in Dresden (1899) at which selected component parts of the altarpiece were exhibited. The treatment included further thinning of the central panel and a new cradle was attached to the reverse.
                          [Matauschek 2016, 112]
                        • conservation treatment by: Edwin Birk
                        • conservation treatment by: Hermann Schütz
                        • Date: 1861 - 1862
                        • Support: problems along the joints of the wooden boards, particularly those already treated in 1839
                          Ground and paint layers: lack of adhesion between the ground and wooden support, blistering and tenting, flaking paint and paint loss
                          Varnish and old retouches:the oil varnish had dulled, the retouches discoloured
                        • Conservation carried out by Carl Martin Schirmer:
                          Support: cradled (central panel); the fixed wings [DE_MKH_NONE-MKH001f and DE_MKH_NONE-MKH001g] were transferred to canvas.
                          Ground, paint and varnish layers: consolidation, varnish removal and retouching
                          [Matauschek 2016, 111, 112]
                        • conservation treatment by: Carl Martin Schirmer
                        • Date: 1839
                        • Altar removed from original position in the church; the frame was then replaced; open joints on the central panel were reglued, filled and retouched.
                          [Matauschek 2016, 111]
                          • Date: 1657
                          • First reference to an intervention employing gold, silver, varnish and paint; apparently the water gilding on the central panel was at this point renewed and replaced with oil gilding.
                            [Matauschek 2016, 111]