High Altar of the Dominican Church of Frankfurt


Inv. No. HM 6–20 (Loans from the Historisches Museum Frankfurt a.M.), LG 1. (Loan from the Gesamtverband der katholischen Kirchengemeinden, Frankfurt a.M.)

zur  Biographie

166.5 x 150.5 cm (each Panel)

267.1 x 64.5 cm (Predella)

Exterior: left wing: Tree of Jesse; right wing: Genealogical Table of the Dominican Order

Insides of outer wings and outsides of inner wings: upper row: Arrest of Christ, Christ before Pontius Pilate, Scourging of Christ, Christ Crowned with Thorns; lower row: Ecce Homo, Bearing of the Cross, Resurrection

Predella: Entry into Jerusalem, Cleansing of the Temple, Last Supper, Washing of the Feet, Prayer on the Mount of Olives, 1500–01


When the Frankfurt Dominicans needed a new high altar shortly before 1500, they had Hans Holbein come from Augsburg along with his assistants to paint it. The doubly transformable retable initially comprised a shrine which presumably held sculptures. The Passion cycle of the first state and the predella have survived in near entirety. In the execution of these clear compositions in glowing colours, the chief concern was apparently readability from a distance. The programme of the weekday side is unusual. In an analogy to the Tree of Jesse, the Dominicans had a genealogical table of their order depicted, boasting such famous figures as Thomas Aquinas, the order’s founder, and Albertus Magnus.

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