Master of St. Bartholomew Altarpiece: The Baptism of Christ (1485-1500)

(National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA)

The artist known as 'the Master of Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece' was Dutch painter who was active in Germany between 1475 and 1510. His exact name is unknown and the current name is from an altarpiece which depicts Saint Bartholomew, Saint Agnes, Saint Cecilia and a Carthusian monk in Cologne. This painting shows a familiar subject (the baptism of Christ by Saint John the Baptist) but in a very unusual way. In the center you can see the baptism itself and three angels. Surrounding the scene is an array of saints.

On the left side they are: Saint Christopher carrying the Christ child, saint Barbara with chalice, Andrew the Apostle, Saint Jerome (?), saint Catherine of Alexandria with sword and wheel of her martyrdom, Saint Augustine holding his heart pierced by the arrow of divine love, Saint Agnes.

On the right side: Saint George kneeling on the defeated dragon, Mary Magdalene with her ointment jar, an unknown male saint, Saint Apollonia with tongs and a tooth, unknown female saint (saint Elisabeth of Hungary?), Saint Lucy, a male monk with stigmata (Saint Francis of Assisi ?). 


In the center is God with the text "HIC EST EILIVS MEVS DILECTV IN QVO MICHI CON[P]LICVI" which means "This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Painting from 1485-1500.

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