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Title Virgin and Child
Alternative Title Madonna
Collection Royal Cornwall Museum, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro
Artist School of Weyden, Rogier van der (Flemish painter, ca. 1399-1464)
Previously attributed to Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula (Flemish painter, active ca. 1470-1490)
Previously attributed to Master of the Saint Ursula Legend (German painter, active ca. 1485-ca. 1515)
Date Earliest possibly about 1470
Date Latest possibly about 1500
Description This intimate representation of the Virgin and Child, framed by a fictive window with a landscape background beyond, was probably made for the purpose of private devotion. It would have been displayed in a private home rather than a church. The inscription, which implores the Mother of God to 'remember me', is a personal prayer on the part of the first owner of the painting, asking for the Virgin's intercession. It is unknown who painted this panel, although it is close in style to the work of the important Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden.

Current Accession Number TRURI:1925.207
Inscription front ll-r 'O MATER D[E]I MEMENTO MEI'
Subject religion (Virgin and Child); landscape
Measurements 55.5 x 41.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil; gold on panel
Acquisition Details Given by Mr A. A. de Pass 1925.
Provenance Mr A. A. de Pass, by 1920.
Publications Penrose, G., Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Miniatures in the Alfred A. de Pass Collection, Truro, 1936, cat. no. 27, p. 9, as by the Master of the Legend of St Ursula, Cologne School, ill.; Wright, C. Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Paintings Executed Before c. 1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom , London, 1976, p. 130.

The panel is arched. The integral decorative frame is original to the painting. The recorded dimensions describe the full extent of the base as 'width'. The inscription 'O MATER D[E]I MEMENTO MEI' translates as 'O, Mother of God, Remember me'. Minor fire damage to the bottom centre of the reverse has not affected the image.

Alfred A. de Pass (1861-1953) was born in South Africa, where his father and grandfather had established a business empire which included interests in shipping, guano, copper mining and sugar farming. After retiring from the family firm at age 36, Alfred pursued his interest in art collecting. For a period he lived in Cornwall, where he took an active interest in the Truro museum, then called the Royal Institution of Cornwall. In 1917 he was elected Associate of the Institution and in 1920 became its Vice-President. His gifts to the museum between 1914 and 1947 included many works of Western European fine and decorative art, including an important collection of old master drawings, as well as Oriental paintings, ceramics, metal work and textiles. For a list of Mr de Pass' donations of Western European paintings and drawings to the Truro museum up to 1936 see G. Penrose (cited below). He also donated to a number of other museums, including the National Gallery, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the Fitzwilliam, and the South African National Gallery.

Biographies and discussion of Mr de Pass' interests and donations may be found in: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, The De Pass Collection: Paintings, Furniture, Ceramics etc., Illustrated Catalogue, Bristol, 1936; Popham, A.E., An Exhibition of Drawing from the Alfred A. de Pass Collection belonging to the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, London, 1957; Walker, R., The De Pass Family, unpublished dissertation, Bristol Polytechnic, 1979; Price, B.D., Biographical Notes on Alfred Aaron De Pass (1861-1952) Art Benefactor Extraordinary, Falmouth, 1982; Nail, N., ‘The Cornish curator and the cosmopolitan collector: a note on George Penrose, 1876-1951, and Alfred de Pass, 1861-1953', Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 1993, New Series II, I, 3, pp. 277-89; Berriman, H., ‘Introduction' in M. Joannides, Exhibition Catalogue of Master Drawing from the De Pass Collection, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, London, 1994, pp. 7-11; Tietze, A., The Alfred de Pass Presentation to the South African National Gallery, exhibition catalogue, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 1995; Irvine, G., and T. Daniel, Japanese Collection, Royal Cornwall Museum, Cornwall, 2001.

The work was in the De Pass collection from before May 1920, when Mr de Pass wrote to Mr Holmes of the National Gallery (16 May, 1920, National Gallery archive) offering works to the Gallery, including ‘A madonna & child arched top said to be by the Master of the Virgin of St Ursula Cologne 15 Century'. There is no indication as to when and where he acquired it, although several others mentioned were purchased from the Colnaghi dealership.

The change in attribution to the School of Rogier van der Weyden is made on the advice of National Gallery curator, Lorne Campbell. The work may be linked with at least two others, probably by the same hand or workshop, see Friedlander, Rogier van der Weyden and the Master of Flémalle, II, Leyden, 1976, cat. nos. 108 k & l, pp. 83-84, plate 121.

The Lille Madonna (Friedlander cat. no. 108 k) has a very similar frame, also inscribed. In that example the background is plain and the child is supported in the Virgin's left arm, but like the Truro picture the child is shown at the breast, and has his ankles crossed. In the Metropolitan Museum Madonna (Friedlander cat. no. 108 l, possibly de-accessioned) the background and the ledge are very similar to the equivalent elements in the Truro painting.

Rights Owner Royal Cornwall Museum, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro
Author Dr Susan Steer



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