Overview

Saints played a very important role in the popular piety of the late Middle Ages. They were considered to be not only patrons and protectors against all manner of ills, but also mediators between the individual worshiper and God.

In this unusual scene, fourteen saints participate as witnesses at the Baptism of Christ. All the saints are vividly characterized by costume and attributes. They include the giant Christopher carrying the Christ Child on his shoulders, Catherine of Alexandria with sword and wheel of her martyrdom, Augustine holding his heart pierced by the arrow of divine love, Mary Magdalene with her ointment jar, and the chivalrous George kneeling on his dragon. The gold background, the luminescent cloud on which the saints float, and the unrealistic island setting for the Baptism itself all impart a visionary quality to the scene.

The Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altar, named after his monumental altarpiece now in Munich, was active in Cologne. Early in his career he seems to have worked as a manuscript illuminator, and this tradition is evident in his fluid paint handling and sparkling treatment of decorative details.

Inscription

on banderolle: HIC EST EILIVS MEVS DILECTV IN QVO MICHI CON[P]LICVI (This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased), from Matthew 3:17; on heart held by Saint Augustine: IHS

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Possibly a church in Arnhem.[1] Count Jacques de Bryas, Paris; (sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 6 February 1905, no. 20); (Galerie F. Kleinberger, Paris).[2] Richard von Kaufmann [1849-1908], Berlin; (his sale, Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing, Berlin, 4 December 1917, no. 132); possibly purchased by (Paul Graupe, Berlin)[3] for Otto Henkell [1869-1929], Wiesbaden. (Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York); purchased February 1955 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1961 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1914
Austellung von Werken alter Kunst aus dem Privatbesitz von Mitgliedern des Kaiser-Friedrich-Museums-Vereins, Königliche Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 1914, no. 92.
1925
Jahrtausend Ausstellung der Rheinlande in Köln, Messehalle, Cologne, 1925, no. 71.
Bibliography
1906
Head, Alban [pseudonym]. "The Schools of Cologne, Hamburg and Westphalia." In Exhibition of Early German Art. Exh. cat. Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1906: 55.
1907
Rath, Karl vom. "Meister des Bartholomäus-Altares." In Thieme-Becker. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 37(1950):35.
1913
Plietzsch, Eduard. "Die Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst in der Berliner Kgl. Akademie der Künste." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst N.F. 25 (1913/1914): 225, 228, repro.
1917
Friedeberger, Hans. "Die Sammlung Richard von Kaufmann-Berlin." Der Cicerone 9 (1917): 377.
1918
"Die Versteigerung der Sammlung von Kaufmann." Der Cicerone 10 (1918): 26.
1923
Schaefer, Karl. Geschichte der kölner Malerschule. Lübeck, 1923: 19.
1924
Brockmann, Harald. Die Spätzeit der kölner Malerschule. Der Meister von St. Severin und der Meister der Ursulalegende. Bonn and Leipzig, 1924: 53. (The 1932 printing appeared in Forschungen zur Kunstgeschichte Westeuropas 6; Jahresgabe des Kreises der rheinischen Heimatfreunde.)
1925
Reiners, Heribert. Die kölner Malerschule. Munich, Gladbach, Bonn and Leipzig, 1925: 182, 186-187, 190, pl. 37.
1939
Ring, Grete. "Die Gruppe der heiligen Agnes." Oud Holland 56 (1939): 39.
1940
Boon, Karel G. "Einige Opmerkingen naar aanleiding van Vroege Nederlandsche Schilders." Oud Holland 57 (1940): 101.
1941
Rath, Karl vom. Der Meister des Bartholomäusaltares. Bonn, 1941: 52-57, 59-61, 125, no. 9, figs. 19-23.
1950
Stange, Alfred. German Painting XIV-XVI Centuries. New York, Paris, and London, 1950: 25. ( Altdeutsche Malerei des 14. bis 16. Jahrhunderts. Cologne, 1950, reprinted 1969.)
1952
Fritz, Rolf. "Aquilegia: Die symbolische Bedeutung der Akelei." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 14 (1952): 101, 109, no. 58, fig. 93.
1953
Pieper, Paul. "Miniaturen des Bartholomäus-Meisters." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 15 (1953): 149-152, 154, fig. 133.
1956
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Crystal Anniversary in the Capital." Art News 55, no. 1 (March 1956): 35.
1956
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Colllection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1951-56. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida and Fern Rusk Shapley. National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1956: 124, no. 47, repro.
1956
"The Kress Collection." Arts 30, no. 6 (March 1956): 49, repro.
1956
Walker, John. "The Nation's Newest Old Masters." National Geographic 110, no. 5 (November 1956): 626-627, 643, color repro.
1959
Levey, Michael. The German School. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 1959: 92.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 301, repro.
1959
Pieper, Paul. "Das Stundenbuch des Bartholomäus-Meisters." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 21 (1959): 139, 155-157, figs. 75-76.
1960
Broadley Hugh T. German Painting in the National Gallery of Art (Booklet no. 9 in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Washington, 1960: 3, 18-19, color repro.
1961
Andree, Rolf, Helmut R. Leppien and Horst Vey. "Nachlese der Ausstellung `Kölner Maler der Spätgotik'." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 23 (1961): 331-332.
1961
Der Meister des Bartholomäus-Altares, der Meister des Aachener Altares: Kölner Maler der Spätgotik. Exh. cat. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 1961: 27, 29, 91 under no. 22, 92, under no. 23. (The NGA picture was not in the exhibition.)
1961
Oswald, Fritz. "Die Darstellungen des hl. Hieronymus beim Meister des Bartholomäusaltares." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 23 (1961): 342, 344, fig. 229.
1961
Wallrath, Rolf. Exhibition review, "Kölner Maler der Spätgotik." Kunstchronik 14, no. 6 (June 1961): 153, 155.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, ed, Treasures from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1962: 66-67, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 112-113, repro.
1964
Malkon, K. [pseudonym] "Meister des Bartholomäusaltars." In Kindlers Malerei Lexikon, edited by Germain Bazin, et al. 6 vols. Zürich, 1964-1971. Zürich, 1964: 1:214-215.
1964
Steingräber, Erich. "Ein neu entdecktes Werk vom Meister des Bartholomäus-Altares." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 26 (1964): 224, n. 6.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 86
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:104-105, color repro.
1967
Stange, Alfred. Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer. 3 vols. Munich, 1967: 1:85, no. 252.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 76, no. 1630, repro.
1969
De Montebello, Philippe. "Master of the St. Bartholomew Altarpiece." In McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Art ed. Bernard S. Myers. 5 vols. New York, 1969: 4:13.
1969
Osten, Gert von der and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Harmondsworth, 1969: 138-139.
1970
Herbst des Mittelalters. Spätgotik in Köln und am Niederrhein. Exh. cat. Kunsthalle, Cologne, 1970: 48, under no. 34.
1970
Musper, Heinrich Theodor. Altdeutsche Malerei. Cologne, 1970: 11.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 224, repro. 225.
1977
Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 8-10, fig. 10.
1983
Wolff, Martha. German Art of the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1983: unpaginated, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: no. 147, repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 256, repro.
1986
Budde, Rainer. Köln und seine Maler 1300-1500. Cologne, 1986: 141-143, 258, no. 95, figs. 121, 122, color pl. 30.
1986
Ford, Terrence, ed. Inventory of Music Iconography, no. 1. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York 1986: 1, no. 10.
1989
Michaelis, Rainer. Deutsche Gemälde 14. - 18. Jahrhundert. Staatliche Museen au Berlin. Gemäldegalerie. Berlin, 1989: 82.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 59, repro.
1993
Hand, John Oliver, with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1993: 133-140, color repro. 135.
1994
MacGregor, Neil. A Victim of Anonymity: The Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece. (Walter Neurath Memorial Lectures, no. 25, London, 1993.) New York, 1994: 35-36, fig. 26.
1995
Hall, Edwin and Horst Uhr. "Das Kronenmotiv bei Maria und anderen heiligen in der Altkölner Malerei." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 56 (1995): 119, fig. 18.
1995
Löcher, Kurt. Review of German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries, by John Oliver Hand with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. Kunstchronik 43 no. 1 (January 1995): 18.
1997
Nürnberger, Ulrike. "The Late Medieval Workshop of the Master of the St. Bartholomew Altar: An Investigation of Underdrawings and Paintings." Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1997: 244-260 (no. 1), figs. 6, 11a, 20a-c, 25, 27a, 30-35, 47a-b, 51-53, 58a-b, 70, 92. 107-110, 114a, 181.
2000
Corley, Brigitte. Painting and Patronage in Cologne, 1300-1500. Turnhout, 2000: 46, 233-236, fig. 200-202.
2001
Krischel, Roland. Genie ohne Namen: Der Meister des Bartholomäus-Altars. Exh. cat. Wallraf Richartz Museum, Cologne, 2001: 446-447, no. 97, color repro. (Not in the exhibition.)
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 64-65, no. 48, color repro.
2009
Mack, Rosamund E. "When Armor was Art: Exploring Images of Armor in the National Gallery of Art Collections." Washington, 1990, recto.
2011
Lüdtke, Hartwig and Kurt Schietzel, ed. Handbuch zur mittelalterlichen Keramik in Nordeuropa. 3 vols. Kiel and Hamburg, 2001: 3:691 (no. 77), 1857, fig. 4.
Technical Summary

The painting is composed of four oak boards with horizontal grain, joined with a block and four-dowel system.[1] The boards have been thinned. There are unpainted edges at the top, bottom, and left sides. A backing board, also oak, and a cradle have been attached. The smooth white ground is covered by a striated isolation coat containing lead-white. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals extensive densely hatched and crosshatched underdrawing in the figures, which appears to have been done with a brush. A good deal of this underdrawing is visible to the naked eye. Traces of gold leaf can be seen in the musical instruments held by the foreground angels and in the censer held by an angel. There are extensive flake losses throughout, most noticeably in the lower half of the angel playing a vielle. There are small, scattered losses in the figures of Christ and John the Baptist. In addition, the paint surface has suffered from abrasion, and it is likely that glazes are missing. What was originally gold leaf in the background has been largely replaced by gold-colored paint. In 1905 the painting bore a false Lucas van Leyden monogram, which was probably removed before 1941.

[1] The wood was identified as oak by the National Gallery's scientific research department.