Reliquary Bust of Saint Barbara

Workshop of Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden North Netherlandish

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 located 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.

Reliquary Bust of Saint Barbara, Workshop of Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden (North Netherlandish, active Strasbourg, ca. 1462–died 1473 Vienna), Walnut with paint and gilding, German

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