Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie — 10.1969

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Tadeusz Dobrzeniecki

A GDAŃSK PANEL OF THE PITIE-DE-NOSTRE-SEIGNEUR:
NOTES ON THE ICONOGRAPHY

In the Chapel of St Trinity in St Mary's in Gdańsk (the old chapel of shoemakers' guild)
til] the Second World "War one could see a Gothic triptych, painted ca. 1435. Only the central
part of the altarpiece has escaped destruction. It shows God the Father standing in front of the
cloth of honour, being spread by four angels, and holding with both hands the lifeless body
of Christ. On the lost wings of the triptych there were representations of two angels, presenting
the Weapons of Passion (Arma Christi).1 The deplorable state of the preservation of the central
panel, much repainted both in older and in recent times, broken into parts, its polychromy
cracked and flaked away, recpiired a considerable restoration treatment. This was undertaken
by the Laboratory of Conservation at the Department of Mediaeval Art in the National Museum
in Warsaw. Now the restored painting is exhibited in the Gallery of Mediaeval Art of the
Museum (Figs 1—6).2

No monographical study was devoted to our panel up to now and in older literaturę on Gothic
art in Gdańsk it used to be considered as a mediocre imitation of another local work of the
same subject, namely, the panel (much better preserved than ours was)3 founded for St Mary's
by the members of St George's Confraternity (Fig. 7).3 The recent conservation of the Warsaw pa-
nel has revealed its artistic values — compositional and coloristic as well — unknown to previous
students, calling thus in question the common negative opinion of the scholars.4 Any attempt,
however, to reconsider mutual relations of both Gdańsk panels confronts us with difficulties
sińce the supposed model founded by the members of St George's Confraternity was lost during
the last war. The present state of the Warsaw painting will allow to examine more precisely
its connections with local Gdańsk production while its inclusion into the set of items having
been chosen for an exhibition organised in Hamburg will provide an extremely happy oppor-
tunity to study the influences of the circle of Meistcr Francke and Burgundian painting of the
time.

1. Th. Hirscli, Die Ober-Pfarrkirclie von St Marien in Danzig in ihren Denkmalern nnd in ihren Beziehungen zum kirch-
lichen Leben Danzigs uherhdupt dargestellt, Erstcr Teil, Danzig, 1843, p. 432 briefly describes the altarpiece and informs
that the paintings of the reverses and the predella are destroyed.

2. An arapler study of the Gdańsk panel by the present author will be published in the Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego
ic Warszawie, XV.

3. H. Ehrenberg, "Neues vom Meister Francke", Monatsheftc f. Kunstivissenschaft, X, 1917, p. 29; the same, Deutsche Ma-
lerei und Plastik von 1350 — 1450. Neue Beitriige zu ihrer Kenntnis aus dem ehemaligen Dculschordensgcbiet, Bonn u. Leip-
zig, 1920, p. 84 — 86; G. Brutzer, Mitlelallerliche Malerei im Ordenslande Preussen, Teil I, Wesipreussen (Danziger kunst-
geschichtliche Forscliungen, H. 2), Danzig, n.d., p. 69 — 71; A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Golik, III: Norddculschland
in der Zeit von 1400 bis 1450, Berlin, 1938, p. 284 — 285, fig. 298; W. Drost, Danziger Malerei vom Mittelalter bis zum
Ende des Barock, Berlin u. Lcipzig, 1938, p. 41 — 42, pl. 14; the same, Die Marienkirche in Danzig und ihrc Kunslschalzc,
Stuttgart, 1963, p. 138, pi. 151.

4. The cleaning of the panel during the restoration endorsed the opinion of W. Drost, Danziger Malarei, o.c, p. 41 on its
coloring: Dieser isl fliichtiger, aber, soweit man unlcr der iiberaus slarken Firnisschicht und mannigfacher Obermalung
erkennen kann, von einer liclleichl noch prunkvolleren Farbcnwirkung.

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