Gabriel von Max


 Saint Cecilia

oil on canvas, 1879


Gabriel von Max

St. Cäcilia, die Orgel spielend

[Saint Cecilia Playing the Organ]


oil on canvas

78 x 64 cm

signed lower left

Catalogue Raisonné: Richter 77 


Norton Quincy Pope, Brooklyn (1844-1897).  

N.Q. Pope and his wife Abby Ellen Pope (1858-1894) lived in a mansion on Park Place in Brooklyn.  Abby Ellen Pope was a bibliophile, who amassed one of the most renowned book collections of her time.  Their Brooklyn mansion featured a splendid library showcasing her books; and the library and other rooms also displayed a collection of European and American paintings, which appears to have been assembled by N.Q.  Not long after Abby's premature death in 1894, N.Q. sold their collections at auction, the paintings at American Art Galleries, New York, in 1896.

American Art Galleries, New York, January 23-25, 1896, The N. Q. Pope Collection: Catalogue of Modern Paintings ... Belonging to Mr. N. Q. Pope, auction Lot 42, not illustrated but described thus: 

"St. Cecilia at the Organ.  Height, 39 inches; width, 24 inches.  A sweetly sad face and a fine head has the artist given to St. Cecilia, who, seated at twilight at the organ, lets her fingers rest lightly on the keys, as if playing softly some beautiful melody.  Her hair is auburn, and her costume of rose color is lightly embroidered with gold.  The face is shown in profile and the life-size figure in half length.  A little carved figure on the organ, grim like fate, looks toward the cold evening sky.  Canvas.  Signed on the left."

The painting sold at American Art Galleries in 1896 for the hammer price of US $550.

Exhibition History:

1879     Galerie Mikuláš (Nikolaus) Lehmann, Prague.  See Michal Šimek, "Gabriel Max a Praha" ["Gabriel Max and Prague"], thesis, Univerzita Karlova, Prague, 2009, pgs. 86 and 129.

Publication History:

Nicolaus Mann, Gabriel Max' Kunst und seine Werke: Eine kunsthistorische Skizze (Leipzig, 1888), referenced without illustration at p. 25 (as "St. Cäcilia (an der Orgel sitzend), 1879").

Nicolaus Mann, Gabriel Max, Eine kunsthistorische Skizze (Leipzig: Verlagsbuchhandlung von J. J. Weber, second, expanded edition 1890), listed in Werkverzeichnis at pg. 54 (as "St. Cäcilia (die Orgel speilend), 1879").

Friedrich von Boetticher, Malerwerke des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, 4 volumes, Third, unchanged reprinting, (Hofheim am Taunus: H. Schmidt & C. Günther, 1979) (initially Fr. v. Boetticher's Verlag, Dresden 1891–1901), here volume one, second half, no. 74 ("St. Cäcilia, die Orgel spielend.  1879") (referenced without illustration).

The N. Q. Pope Collection: Catalogue of Modern Paintings ... Belonging to Mr. N. Q. Pope (New York: American Art Association, 1896), pg. 18, Lot 42 (not illustrated).

Margaret Mary Richter, Gabriel Max: The Artist, The Darwinist and The Spiritualist, PhD dissertation, New York University, 1998 (Ann Arbor: UMI Dissertation Services, 1998), cat. no. 76, at pgs. 395-396 (not illustrated).

Karin Althaus and Helmut Friedel, eds., Gabriel von Max, Malerstar, Darwinist, Spiritist (München: Hirmer Verlag, 2010), p. 63, ill. 35 (as published on cabinet card by Verlag Nicolaus Lehmann, Prague).


An interesting comparison can be made between this painting and another painting in The Daulton Collection, "Song Without Worth" (circa 1900-1915), a similar composition more than 20 years later with a monkey as its subject.


Jack Daulton

The Jack Daulton Collection

Los Altos Hills, California