The Holy Family and their attendant angels are being watched from the lower right hand corner by a chained monkey holding an apple. This animal may represent man, chained to the earth by sinful desires, while the apple recalls the sin of Adam and Eve.


  • Title: Holy Family with Music Making Angels
  • Creator: Attributed to the Master of Frankfurt
  • Creator Lifespan: About 1520
  • Creator Nationality: Netherlandish
  • Date Created: About 1515
  • tag / style: Holy family; Master of Frankfurt; angels; lute; Mary; infant; Jesus; breast; wings; throne; book; monkey; harp
  • Physical Dimensions: w1559 x h1562 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: The Master of Frankfurt (1460–c.1533) was a Flemish Renaissance painter active in Antwerp between about 1480 and 1520. We do not know the name of the artist who painted this picture but whoever he was he painted several other works. Two well-known pictures hang in the art gallery in Frankfurt, from which the name by which we know him is derived. In fact he was almost certainly an artist from Antwerp, Belgium rather than Germany. He seems to have run a large and very active workshop from around 1490 until about 1520. Although we do not know his name there is a portrait of the Master of Frankfurt and his wife in the Royal Museum in Antwerp.
  • Additional artwork information: The composition of the Walker's panel is similar to works painted by other artists, in particular a picture now in a Lisbon museum. During the 15th and early 16th centuries it was quite common for artists to borrow whole compositions as well as details from other artists. It is thought that both the painter of the Lisbon picture and The Master of Frankfurt took their composition from an unidentified earlier picture by another artist – possibly Joos van Cleve. Joos was one of the major Antwerp artists at this time. (See WAG 9864 Joos van Cleve, Virgin and Child with Angels) 'Holy Family with Music-Making Angels' was the subject of an 'Artwork Highlight' talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2004. To read the notes from this talk, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=188
  • Type: Oil on wood panel
  • Rights: Bequeathed by P H Rathbone in 1895

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