Master of Heiligenkreuz
Austrian, active early 15th century


The Master of Heiligenkreuz takes his name from a diptych that once belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, in south-eastern Austria, near the present-day border with Hungary. The Annunciation is on the left panel, with a Madonna and Child on the reverse; the right panel depicts the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine, with Saint Dorothy on the reverse. Based on costume, iconography, and associations with the International Style, the panels are usually dated around 1400/1410, thus providing the active date of c. 1400 for the artist.

Betty Kurth's initial publication of the pictures in 1922 proposed that the artist was French and associated with the Parisian court. Subsequent authors have challenged this idea, and the Master of Heiligenkreuz has been described variously as French, Austrian, German, or Bohemian, as well as an itinerant court artist, trained in France, but active in Austria. The master's use of refined tooled decoration has been cited on the one hand as proof of his origins in franco-burgundian goldsmith's work of the late fourteenth century and, on the other hand, as a link with panel painting at the court in Prague. This discussion serves mainly to underscore the difficulty of localizing late Gothic courtly art, for it is unlikely that the artist's nationality will be established with certainty. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]


Kurth, Betty. "Französische Tafelbilder aus der Wende des 14. Jahrhunderts in österreichischen Sammlungen." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst n.s., 33 (1922): 14-22.
Oettinger, Karl. "Zur Malerei um 1400 in Österreich." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien n.s., 10 (1936): 59-87.
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, D.C., 1993: 127.

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