Gonçal Peris Sarrià: Altarpiece of Saint Barbara (1410-1425)

(Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain)

An altarpiece made by the 15th century Spanish artist Gonçal Peris Sarrià. The piece is dedicated to saint Barbara of Nicomedia, patron saint of Armourers, Architects, Artillerymen, Firemen, Mathematicians, Miners, Chemical Engineers and Prisoners. The central compartment shows the saint with her attributes – a tower, the place in which the saint was imprisoned, and the palm,a sign that she is a martyr. Above the saint is an depiction of the crucifixion while the scene to the left and right depict scenes from the life of the saint. Depicted:

Left above: the baptism of saint Barbara and her father Dioscorus who is building the tower in which he locks up his daughter. The saint directs her father to construct a third window in the tower - a reference to the Holy Trinity.

Left below: Dioscorus discovers that Barbara has converted herself to Christianity and threatens her with a dagger. Barbara runs away but is betrayed by a shepherd who reveals her location to Dioscorus (the shepherd is turned to stone as a punishment)

Right above: after her capture, Barbara is led before the prefect of the province, Martinianus. Barbara is sentenced to death for being a Christian. In the other scene Barbara is tied to a cross while torturers are pulling her breasts.

Right below: Barbara is being stoned by a group of males and her final death. Having survived everything her father Dioscorus beheads Barbara. Dioscorus is struck by lightning and Barbara’s soul is welcomed by an angel.

At the bottom are a set of 6 saints (from left to right): Saint. Ursula, Saint. Luke, Mary, Saint. John the Evangelist, Saint. Margaret and Saint Catherine. Painting from 1410-1425.

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