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North Netherlandish 15th Century
The Adoration of the Magi

fourth quarter 15th century
oil on canvas, transferred to panel
183 x 164.5 cm (72 1/16 x 64 3/4 in)
Probably from a convent in the province of Guipuzcoa, Spain. [1] (Arthur J. Sulley, London); [2] (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Rome), by 1926; [3] purchased April 1927 by Samuel H. Kress [1863-1955], New York; [4] gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.

[1] The precise basis for the tradition that the picture comes from the Basque province of Guipuzcoa has not been found. In a statement in the NGA curatorial files, Robert Quinn analyzed the history and holdings of various monastic establishments in the province, concluding that the most likely candidates for ownership of the Adoration were the Convento de Bidaurrete and the Convento de Aránzazu, both in Oñate; see also Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian (Oxford, 1977), 65-66.
[2] See note 4; Max Friedlander, in a letter of 21 March 1937 to Kress commenting on a photograph of the painting, says "I have seen the original many years ago in London." This information and note 4 have been added to the provenance after the 1986 publication of the NGA systematic catalogue of Netherlandish paintings.
[3] See certificate of Roberto Longhi, November 1926, in the NGA curatorial files.
[4] The bill of sale for eight paintings is dated 6 April 1927 (copy in NGA curatorial files). The painting is described as follows: "A picture representing The Adoration of the Maggi[sic] - An early painting attributed to the Dutch School, said to be painted not later than 1480. Transferred from an oaken panel. From a Convent in Spain. From Mr. A. S. [sic] Sulley London." A label on the back of the painting repeats this, except for reference to Sulley, which is handwritten on the typewritten bill of sale.
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