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Study for "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" (for Saint Ulrich, Vienna)

Study for "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" (for Saint Ulrich, Vienna)

c. 1750

attributed to Franz Anton Maulbertsch

(Austrian, 1724–1796)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 90 x 70 x 9 cm (35 7/16 x 27 9/16 x 3 9/16 in.); Unframed: 69.5 x 52.3 cm (27 3/8 x 20 9/16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1963.326


This loosely painted sketch is the preliminary design for an altarpiece in the Church of Saint Ulrich, Vienna. Mary and Joseph have brought the infant Jesus to the temple to be inducted into the Jewish faith; the aged priest Simeon cradles the infant in his arms, turning his gaze to heaven as he realizes that he is holding the Son of God. Strong contrasts of light and shadow underscore the drama of the moment.

The frame is not original to this painting, but was made by an Austrian craftsman in the mid-1700s. Its florid style suits Maulbertsch’s flickering brushwork, and reflects the tradition of wood sculpture from Central Europe seen in other objects in the CMA's collection.

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