Master of 1456: The martyrdom of saint Ursula and the 11000 virgins of Cologne (1450-1460)

(Private Collection)

This panel from an unknown German artist from Cologne is the last of a set of 24 panels. The panels show the life and death of Saint Ursula. According to the story saint Ursula was a princess and the daughter of King Dionotus of Dumnonia in south-west Britain. Ursula sailed acros the sea to marry the pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica but after a miraculous storm brought her and 11000 virginal handmaidens over the sea in a single day, she decided to undertake a pilgrimage thorughout Europe. Eventually Ursula and her 11000 virginal handmaidens were captured at Cologne by the Huns who killed all the virgins. Ursula herself was shot with an arrow by the leader of the Huns (this is shown bottom right). The city in the background is Cologne. Shortly after this the Huns were defeated by an 'heavenly army of Virgins' (including the martyred 11000 virgins). The shield bottom left is of the van Scheyven family. this family probably commssioned the entire cycle of 24 panels for the Klarenkloster in Cologne. Saint Ursula is the patronsaint of marital status, of (crying) children, teachers, schoolchildren, orphans, cloth merchants and drapers. Panel from 1450-1460.