Spandrel with an Angel
third quarter of the 12th century
Unidentified artist, French, 14th century French
48.5 x 84 cm (19 1/8 x 33 1/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Stone; limestone with polychromy
Not On View
Alphonse Kann (b. 1870 – d. 1948), Saint-Germain en Laye, France [see note 1]. About 1940/45, private collection, Paris [see note 2]. By 1961, Hermann Schwartz, Mönchengladbach-Hardt, Germany [see note 3]; 1966, sold by Schwartz to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 21, 1966)
 The spandrel is visible in photographs of Kann’s home (date unknown; from the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Paris and provided to the MFA by Judith Schub). The dates of Kann’s ownership are not known.  Curator Hanns Swarzenski wrote in his recommendation for the sculpture's purchase (September 16, 1966): "The relief was discovered in a German collection in Paris during the German occupation in World War II and bought by Mr. Schwartz, today the most active private collector of Gothic sculpture in the Rhineland. Of its previous history, nothing is known."  The relief was included in an exhibition of objects from Hermann Schwartz's collection held at the Suermondt-Museum, Aachen, in 1961. See "Bewahrte Schönheit: Mittelalterliche Kunst der Sammlung Hermann Schwartz," Aachener Kunstblätter 21 (1961): 8, cat. no. 2, pl. 1.
Alphonse Kann’s collection was seized by the ERR, or Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, the Nazi organization responsible for art confiscation. His collection was also dispersed through a forced sale and through looting. It is not known whether Kann owned this sculpture during World War II, or whether he had previously sold it. The spandrel does not appear in the official ERR inventory of Kann’s collection, nor in the sale of Kann’s possessions held in November, 1942. The MFA is currently working with the heirs of Alphonse Kann to determine the sculpture’s provenance.
It is also unclear when and from whom Hermann Schwartz acquired this sculpture and how it was "discovered." Nothing further about its provenance appears in correspondence with Mr. Schwartz at the time of its acquisition. Research into his acquisition of the object is therefore ongoing.
Charles Amos Cummings Bequest Fund