The Bishop of Assisi Giving a Palm to Saint Clare

Date: ca. 1360

Geography: Made in Nuremberg, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Tempera and gold on oak panel

Dimensions: 13 5/16 × 8 9/16 × 3/16 in. (33.8 × 21.7 × 0.45 cm)

Classification: Paintings-Panels

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.343


Among the earliest German medieval panel paintings preserved is a series of altarpiece fragments probably made for the convent of the Poor Clares in either Nuremberg or Bamberg from about 1360 to 1370. Possibly painted in a workshop within the convent itself, these panels illustrate episodes in the life of Saint Clare.

This panel illustrates an early event in Clare's life. On Palm Sunday 1212, the bishop of Assisi handed the eighteen-year-old Clare a palm, a symbolic gesture arranged by Saint Francis. Shortly afterward, the young woman gave up her luxurious life as the daughter of a wealthy nobleman. Her hair was shorn, alluded to by the scissors in Saint Francis's hand. Her rich garments, shown here, were abandoned when she was received into the Franciscan Order. Eventually, Saint Francis permitted her to establish her own order—the Order of the Poor Clares, a community committed to vows of poverty.