A previously unknown panel by Hans Memling, one of the leading painters of the Northern Renaissance, will hit the auction block in January at Sotheby’s Important Old Master Paintings & Sculpture sale.
The devotional panel called Christ Blessing which has been in the same New England collection for over 150 years, was completely unknown to scholars and collectors before it was discovered earlier this year.
Sotheby’s Specialist François De Poortere first came across the work in the aforementioned collection and although it was extremely dirty and the owners did not recognize it as a Memling, De Poortere saw the quality of its execution and suggested that it be brought back to Sotheby’s for further research. After discussions with other leading scholars, it was finally agreed upon that the work was indeed by Hans Memling.
Unfortunately, the history of Christ Blessing could only be traced back as far as the sale of the collection of Conte Lorenzo Castellani Varzi in Paris in 1859 where the panel was attributed to “Hemling J.,” an old name for Memling. However, this was enough to provide the link to the present owners. The work was purchased at the sale by Marshall Woods and given to his son-in-law, S.A.B. Abbott, a director of the American Academy in Rome. From that point it remained in the same family until it began to attract the attention of François De Poortere earlier this year.
The panel, thought to have been executed between 1480 and 1485, will be on view in New York beginning 25 January.
All images courtesy of Sotheby’s