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Painting Title Flagellation of St Barbara
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Siebenbürger, Hans (Transylvanian painter, died before 1483, active in Germany and Austria)
Previously attributed to Master of the Schotten Altar II (German painter, active in 2nd half 15th century)
Date Earliest about 1460
Date Latest about 1470

St Barbara is depicted being beaten by her father. According to the legend, Barbara was an early Christian saint and martyr, living in 3rd century Nicomedia. She was said to have been the daughter of a rich pagan named Dioscorus. Having secretly become a Christian, she rejected an offer of marriage. Her father tried to break her by locking her up in a tower and torturing her (e.g. with flagellation), but he did not manage to change her mind. Finally she was condemned to death by beheading and her father himself carried out the death sentence.

The Flagellation of Saint Barbara probably used to be a part of a retable and other panels from the same altar would be the Martyrdom of Saint Barbara (Upton House, Warwickshire) and Christ visiting St Barbara in Prison (current location unknown, on the Munich art market in 1924). They were all most likely created by Hans Siebenbürger around the same time as the altarpiece of St Ursula from Lilienfeld Abbey from around 1470; three panels from that altarpiece are: Martyrdom of Saint Ursula (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna), Baptism of the St Ursula's Companions (sold Auktionshaus Albert Kende, Vienna, 1931, current location unknown) and St Ursula being blessed by the Pope (in the collection of Marianne Werther in London in 1970). Recent restoration in 2007 revealed the high artistic quality of the York painting, so it is now justifiable to attribute it to Siebenbürger himself.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 752
Subject religion (Saint Barbara Legend); figure; landscape
Measurements 73.6 x 54.6 cm
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green, Esq. through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance Sotheby's, 4th November 1931, purchased by F.D. Lycett Green.
Principal Exhibitions F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 27.
Publications Benesch, O., ‘Die Wiener Tafelmalerei im Zeitalter Friedrichs III' in Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte VII, 1930, pp. 189-190; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 90-91, pl. 77 as by Workshop of the Younger Master of the Schotten Altarpiece, late 15th century; Roller, S., 'Zwei Arbeiten aus der Werkstatt Hans Pleydenwurffs in der Nationalgalerie in Prag; Teil II. (Dv; práce z dílny Hanse Pleydenwurffa z Národní galerie v Praze; ;ást II.)' in: Bulletin Národní Galerie v Praze IX, 2001, p. 32 as ca. 1490; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 309 as by Master of the Vienna Schottenstift, active 1469-ca. 1480.

The so -called Wiener Schottenmeister (Master of the Viennese Schotten Altar) was a workshop that created the retable to the Schottenstift in Vienna in 1469 (so dated, but some scholars believe it was produced between 1469 and about 1475). 21 panels survive, now partly in Schottenstift Museum and partly in the Belvedere in Vienna. The Schotten Altar Master was clearly influenced by Nuremburgian painting, and he knew Netherlandish art as well. There has been discussion between scholars as to whether the Schotten Altar should be considered the work of two artists, or just one, hence the previous attribution of YORAG : 752 to the so-called Master of Schotten Altar II (or the Younger). According to recent research there was only one Master of the Schotten Altar, and he seems to be identifiable with the painter Hans Siebenbürger, of Transylvanian origin, who most likely studied in the Nurembergian workshop of Hans Pleydenwurff and later worked in Vienna until he died, before 1483.

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art – a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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