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The Kaufmann Crucifixion. Some considerations of the arguable painting in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Proceeding from an old tradition in Bohemian art history, Robert Suckale ascribes the Kaufmann Crucifixion to the Bohemian art world, while Gerhard Schmidt, on the other hand, localizes the work to the north-Alpine territory. It seems plausible that the painter did not belong to any definite painting school, but rather he was an itinerant artist. Anyhow, the Kaufmann Crucifixion reveals a developmental degree that was encouraged by the Italian trecento painting. Gerhard Schmidt advocates the possibility of some intermediate stylistic phase.

The Kaufmann Crucifixion undoubtedly belongs to a developmental process which drew on the postulates of the trecento painting. It is true that the question whether the artist exerted any influence on the subsequent artistic development in Austria is elusive beyond provability, but it is very likely that he did. As concerns his quality, the Master of the Kaufmann Crucifixion is on a par with contemporary Italian painting without initating it. His artistic merit lies mainly in his personal way of chrystallization of Italian pictorial concepts and in giving the colouring new accents, unusual in that time. These, as has been noted, can only bbe found in panel painting much later. As to the time of its origin, the present painting stands between the Master of the Klosterneuburg Passion Altar (1335) and the Master of the Vyšší Brod Altar (1350). By his quality, the Master of the Kaufmann Crucifixion should by all means be ranked much higher within the German speaking space.

The above speculations about the Kaufmann Crucifixion are based on motif, iconographic and stylistic assessment which corroborates its classification with Austrian panel painting. In my opinion, the work was executed shortly before 1350. The painter's origin still remains an open question, although it is very likely that he was resident, or just active, on the Austrian territory.