We are grateful to Peter van den Brink for proposing the attribution to The Master of 1518, on the basis of photographs. He points to the stylistic affinities between the children in these panels and those in two predella panels from an altarpiece illustrating the Life of the Virgin in St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck, now in the St. Annen Museum, Lübeck. The infant held by Mary Cleophas has similar features to the Christ Child in the Holy Family panel in Lübeck, while the young Saint James the Greater in the right wing, holding an apple, bears close resemblance to the boy in the Mary Salome with her Family panel in Lübeck. Although the identity of The Master of 1518 is not known with any certainty, the names of both Jan Mertens the Younger and Jan van Dornicke have been proposed.
The present panels would originally have formed the wings of a small, private devotional triptych, the central panel of which may have depicted the Holy Kinship. This was a popular theme in religious art throughout the Low Countries during the late 15th and early 16th century. According to Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda aurea, Saint Anne married three times and conceived three Marys - the Virgin Mary, Mary Cleophas and Mary Salome – making her the Grandmother not only of Jesus, but also five of the twelve Apostles. The image of Adam and Eve on the recto is a later addition of circa 1600.