master of the female half lengths

Concert of Women (1530-40). Master of Female Half-Lengths (active 1530-1540 in Antwerp). Oil on panel. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

This master was a Netherlandish artist who often painted young girls playing musical instruments or reading. His graceful, rather mannered style is close to that of Massys. The present scene depicting ladies making music - a kind of love allegory - includes the score of a chanson by Claudin de Sermissy (1490-1562), who composed music at the French court.

Saint Mary Magdalene reading, at a table with fruit and a golden tazza. Workshop of The Master of the Parrot (active Antwerp 1525-50). Oil on panel.

His portrayals of the Virgin and Child and Mary Magdalene, depicted as young aristocrats dressed in the fashion of the 1530s, are similar to the works of his contemporary, the Master of Female Half-lengths, whose highly Mannerist style and method of production are sometimes confused with figures by Pieter Coecke van Aelst.

A Lady Writing at a Desk. The Master of the Female Half-lengths (active in Antwerp during the first half of the 16th century). Oil on panel.

The engaging subject is entirely typical of this unknown master, who seems to have specialised in small-scale panels in a courtly style depicting elegant women reading, writing or making music in intimate interiors. The presence of the gilt cup and cover led Friedländer and others to suggest that the young ladies represented the Magdalene.