Rare 1400’s paint­ing un­cov­ered at Macc mu­seum

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - AN­TO­NIA PAGET mac­cles­field­ex­press@men­media.co.uk @Mac­cEx­press

AN art stu­dent dis­cov­ered a 600-yearold mas­ter­piece at West Park Mu­seum in Mac­cles­field whilst re­search­ing an es­say.

Anna Rhodes dis­cov­ered the paint­ing had been wrongly la­belled more than a 100 years ago, whilst work­ing on her MA in Art History and Vis­ual Stud­ies at The Univer­sity of Manch­ester.

The 31-year-old works as a col­lec­tions man­ager for Mac­cles­field Mu­se­ums and chose to in­ves­ti­gate a paint­ing thought to de­pict the Vir­gin Mary and King David per­form­ing a mir­a­cle for her es­say in a mod­ule on North­ern Re­nais­sance Art.

She dis­cov­ered that the rare paint­ing has been la­belled in­cor­rectly since it was first hung at West Park in 1898 and was ac­tu­ally a rare Ger­man Re­nais­sance mas­ter­piece de­pict­ing Saint Cather­ine of Alexandria – a Chris­tian saint who was mar­tyred in the early fourth cen­tury at the hands of the pa­gan em­peror Max­en­tius.

Anna, who lives in Sal­ford and is orig­i­nally from Cum­bria, said: “When the paint­ing came into the Mu­seum’s col­lec­tion in 1898 it was ti­tled ‘The Vir­gin Mary Re­leas­ing a Soul from Pur­ga­tory at the In­ter­ces­sion of King David’.

“This had never been ques­tioned and the panel was dis­played through­out much of the last cen­tury with this in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

“My re­search shows the paint­ing to ac­tu­ally de­pict Saint Cather­ine and the burn­ing philoso­phers.”

It is thought the panel, which was painted by an un­known artist in the Ger­man city of Nurem­berg, would have once been part of a larger al­tar piece ded­i­cated to Saint Cather­ine.

Anna added: “It be­came ap­par­ent that the panel was very un­usual and de­served to be con­served and put back on dis­play at West Park Mu­seum.”

The 15th cen­tury Re­nais­sance paint­ing is now be­ing re­stored thanks to the stu­dent’s re­search.

Anna said: “Know­ing all this new in­for­ma­tion meant I could put a case for­ward for it to be con­served as there’s huge com­pe­ti­tion for this kind of thing. I could ac­tu­ally say that I be­lieved this was worth it.

“It has been re­ally re­ward­ing to do some­thing in the mu­seum and make a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence.”

Fund­ing from the As­so­ci­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Mu­se­ums, sup­ported by the Pil­grim Trust, will pay for the clean­ing, con­ser­va­tion and re­hous­ing of the panel be­fore it is put back on dis­play in Novem­ber.

●● Stu­dent Anna Rhodes is a col­lec­tions man­ager for Mac­cles­field Mu­se­ums

●● The paint­ing of Saint Cather­ine had been in­cor­rectly la­belled for 100 years

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