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Reliquary Bust of Saint Barbara

Artist:
Workshop of Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden (North Netherlandish, active Strasbourg, ca. 1462–died 1473 Vienna)
Date:
ca. 1465
Geography:
Made in Strasbourg, Upper Rhineland, Germany
Culture:
German
Medium:
Walnut with paint and gilding
Dimensions:
Overall: 19 7/8 x 17 1/2 x 10 7/8 in. (50.5 x 44.5 x 27.6 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Wood
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.1735
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 305
This bust, and its companion (acc. no. 17.190.1734), reflect the liveliness and innovative naturalistm of sculpture carved in Nikolaus Gerhaert’s workshop when he was working in the Upper Rhine region. Saint Catherine, whose relics were once lcoated in the chest cavity, can be identified by her attributes the sword and the wheel. The bust of Saint Barbara also contained relics. She is recognized by the tower she holds in her right hand. It is likely that the busts were originally set into niches in the altarpiece at the high altar in Wissembourg. In addition to the saints seen here the altarpiece also incorporated busts of Saint Margaret (now in the Art Institute of Chicago) and Saint Agnes (unlocated). Plaster casts of all four busts are preserved in the Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame in Strasbourg.
From the Benedictine abbey church of Saints Peter and Paul in Wissembourg, Alsasce.; Victor Gay, Paris (until 1909); [ Cyrus Picard, Paris (sold 1910)]; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
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