Northern Spain (Burgos or Palencia?)
H. 120 cm.
Provenance: Collection J. Vecht; Private Collection, the Netherlands
In the 12th and 13th century, it became relevant to provide Mary, the God-bearing mother, of a decent descent through her mother, since only the genealogy through her father Jozef was described in the Scripture.
Many legends, for example the 13th century ‘Legenda Aurea’ of De Voragine, have provided Mary of an extensive holy family. As a barren woman St. Anne sought the assistance of God and promised to give her child in honor to God. At the Golden Gate she met her husband and immaculately, i.e. without any lust, Mary was conceived. Mary became in her position as the bearer of God more distant to common people. Her mother, Saint Anne, having been three times a wife, three times a mother, three times a widow and a grandmother became the symbol of family life.
As such our sculpture of Saint Anne was made; as a moving grouping of three generations. The veneration of Saint Anne as chaste wife, mother and grandmother had its Zenith around 1500 and was much practiced in Northern Europe.
However, this St. Anne is Northern-Spanish and probably of Palencia or Burgos, both centers of Spanish sculpture around 1500. The popular veneration of Saint Anne was probably introduced in Spain by Northern-European sculptors. They arrived from the Low Countries and Germany to work for the Royal Houses in Spain from the 15th century onwards. These sculptors influenced both iconography and style in Spain. We cannot attach a sculptor by name to this sculpture, though influence of Master Alejo de Vahia (active in Berrocil de Campos 1490-1510) is recognized.