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THE CREGLINGEN ALTARPIECE
two groups below, watching the ascent borne up and attended by angels. On the wings, in rather high relief, are scenes in the life of our Lord, and on a panel is an extremely characteristic group of two angels floating in the air upholding the miraculous Veronica handkerchief. The wing panels with the angelical salutation have neither original character nor are they good in execution. In the Annunciation scene, on the left wing of the triptych, the following of a master of painting such as the Maitre des Moulins in the same subject is apparent in the composition generally, and even in such details as the disposition of the draperies and the flow of the train of the Virgin, the form and position of the bed, the book, the reading-desk and other accessories. But the two groups of the apostles are admirable in the expression of the figures taken separately, and in the treatment of the draperies. The retable, which measures, over all, about 21 feet in height by 10 in width, with the wings open, is not painted nor was it intended to be, and although we have many examples of the sculptor's painted and gilded retables and figures, we have no knowledge what may have been his part in this decoration.
As the altarpiece of Creglingen was to be left uncoloured, the carving had to be worked up to the highest perfection of finish. In some other cases bad workmanship is, to some extent, concealed. One finds too, not unfrequently, these carved works cleaned of the original polychrome, and redaubed with modern painting. Indeed we should be grateful that we may now admire in the pure surface of the wood such admirable appropriateness to the material and perfection of execution as in a group which the museum at Kensington possesses. This is a fragment from a Sippenaltar with the figures of the parents of the Blessed Virgin.
A very few descriptive remarks are needed to accompany the illustration here given (Plate 1x.). It is a portion, no doubt one half, of an arrangement very popular in Germany known as a Sippenaltar, or Anna selbdritt group. Elsewhere the term Holy Family is, it is well known, usually applied to the Virgin and Child, St. John Baptist, and St. Joseph. The Anna selbdritt groups are very frequently found, the main idea being St. Anne teaching her daughter to read. But there is generally the strange inconsistency of the Blessed Virgin grown up and holding the Holy Child, even if herself standing or sitting on the lap of her mother. We shall find this, for instance, later on, in the case of a group in the Kensington Museum there called English work (Plate xxxv1n.). In an example in the Erfurt cathedral by Riemenschneider, or of his school, Anna holds the Holy Child on one arm, and on the other a doll-like crowned figure of His mother with an open book on her lap. In another, in the Bavarian National Museum, the elder woman is seated, the Holy Child stands on her knee, and the Virgin, grown up, is seated on her other knee, learning to read from the usual open book. Often again the holy women are seated side by side, the Child playing between them. A divided piece, of which, however, the two halves are still existing, is in the Bavarian National Museum (No. 1247). This, also, is of the Franconian school, and here we have St. Anne and St. Joachim, St. Joseph, Salome, and Alpheus, but the Infant is absent, and it is not a reading lesson. The Kensington group (Plate 1x.), if by Riemenschneider, may be quite late in date: the costume and stuffed headdress pointing to some time between 1495 and 1520. It was at one time attributed to Georg Syrlin of Ulm, and indeed it is not easy to dissociate the Suabian and Wiirzburg schools. A piece composed in an identically similar manner is said to be in the possession of Prince Ottingen-Wallenstein. As an example of this particular side of German wood