Master of the Bartholomew Altar

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Middle panel of the eponymous altar: St. Bartholomew with the donor between Saints Agnes and Cäcilia, around 1501/03

Master of the Bartholomew Altar (also Bartholomew Master , English : Master of the St Bartholomew Altarpiece und Bartholomew Master ) is the emergency name for an unknown artist of the late Middle Ages , active around 1470 to 1510 in the Utrecht area and in Cologne . He was primarily a painter of portraits, devotional and altar paintings and book illuminations . But also sculptural works and ecclesiastical vestments ( paraments ) were created in his workshop, perhaps even church windows and goldsmith work. None of his surviving sculptures is signed, as this was not common in the Middle Ages. There are also no archival documents about the artist.


The emergency name was derived from an altar by the artist, originally from the St. Kolumba parish church in Cologne , which shows the apostle Bartholomew in the center . In the pupil of the right eye of a dragon on the left wing of this triptych , a shadowy face is reflected, which is possibly a self-portrait of the master.

Many of the altars painted for Cologne churches come from the master of the Bartholomäus altar and from his workshop. Its origin is controversial. On the one hand, from the recognizable influence of Stefan Lochner and the style of his signature, it is concluded that he came from Cologne, was trained there and died there around 1510 at the age of around 60. On the other hand, it is assumed that he never lived in Cologne and that he came from the northern Netherlands (around Utrecht ). This is closed in part to the fact that a book of hours that the painted by him Holy Kolumba holds in his hand in mid-Dutch written language and comes from a Dutch bindery.

His oeuvre , in which figures and objects look like painted sculptures, is located between the late Gothic and Renaissance periods and is often accompanied by a touch of irony. The artist chose his diverse stylistic devices and contents eclecticistically from various older and contemporary styles. Significant influences by Stefan Lochner and painters from the south of the Netherlands, such as Rogier van der Weyden , can be seen. He is described as one of the best European painters of the late Middle Ages.

Works (selection)

A total of almost thirty pictures have so far been ascribed to the master of the Bartholomew Altar due to strong similarities in terms of motifs; after a stylistic handshift, some of them are now viewed as works by two journeymen (and other employees under their supervision) from his workshop. From the strong similarities of several pictures in motif and composition with, however, clearly declining quality, it is concluded that some of his handwritten pictures were copied - sometimes several times - by employees of the workshop at the customer's request. They are also important because some of the originals have not been preserved.

  • One of the earliest surviving works is by miniatures illustrated Book of Hours of Sophia van Bylant , built around 1475 in the lily Lion -Binderei in Gelderland (Province of Arnhem and Nijmegen). In it twelve full-page miniatures by the hand of the Batholomäus master. Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum , graphic collection.
  • The Adoration of the Magi , around 1475. Bonn, Rheinisches Landesmuseum .
  • Meeting of the Magi with David and Isaiah , before 1480. Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum .
  • Our Lady with the Nut , oak around 1485–1490. Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
  • Descent from the Cross , around 1495. Commissioned work for a monastery of the Antonite Order , modeled on the Great Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden . Paris, Musee du Louvre .
  • Holy Family (original not preserved)
  • The Baptism of Christ , circa 1500. Washington DC, National Gallery of Art .
  • Cross altar of the Cologne Carthusian Church of St. Barbara , legacy probably from the private property of the Cologne patrician and lawyer Dr. Peter Rinck . Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
  • Thomas altar , oak wood, created shortly before 1500. Also commissioned for Rinck, also bequeathed to the Cologne Charterhouse. Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum
  • Head of St. Joseph (fragment), around 1500. Private ownership.
  • The engagement of Saint Agnes , around 1500. Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum .
  • Bartholomäus altar , oak, a late work, around 1500–1505. Probably as a commissioned work for a Carthusian monk depicted in the middle section. The coats of arms shown in the middle panel, however, belong to the Cologne merchant Arnt von Westerburg and his wife Druitgen von Andernach, who had the triptych attached to the Bartholomew altar in the parish church of St. Kolumba. Munich, Alte Pinakothek .
  • Adoration of the Magi around 1475/80. It was originally part of a Marian altar which also included the Assumption of Mary ( Getty Museum , Los Angeles) and the lost death of Mary . The oak work was acquired in the Berlin art trade in 1938 and is now in Munich, Alte Pinakothek
  • Anna Selbdritt around 1495. The picture does not show the usual close physical bond. It is not known whether the oak work was always a single image. This is also in Munich today, Alte Pinakothek
  • Saints Peter and Dorothea , retable (left altar wing), around 1505–1510, for the parish church of St. Kolumba, Cologne. London, National Gallery .
  • Saints Andrew and Kolumba , right altar wing counterpart to the previous one (the center piece is lost), around 1505–1510. Mainz, State Museum .


  • Rainer Budde, Roland Krischel (ed.): Genius without a name. The master of the Bartholomew altar. DuMont, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-7701-5299-9 (catalog for the special exhibition in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud, Cologne, May 20 to August 19, 2001, supplemented by numerous other images).
  • Rainer Budde, Roland Krischel (ed.): The book of hours of Sophia van Bylant. (Early work by the master of the Bartholomäus altar. Graphic collection of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum). Locher, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-930054-43-4 .
  • Henri LM Defoer: The Master of the Bartholomew Altarpiece and the Art of the Northern Netherlands. Considerations on the occasion of an exhibition. In: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch. Art history yearbook. Vol. 64, 2003, ISSN  0083-7105 , pp. 215-240.
  • Neil MacGregor : Victim of Anonymity. Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece (= The Walter Neurath Memorial Lecture Series. Vol. 25). Thames & Hudson, London 1993, ISBN 0-500-55026-3 .
  • Regina Urban: The Master of St. Bartholomew. Investigations into clothing, gestures and the processing of models in the painter's oeuvre. Berlin 1999 (Berlin, Technical University, dissertation, 1997).
  • Paul PieperMaster of the Bartholomew Altar. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-428-00197-4 , pp. 708 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Paul Pieper: The Book of Hours of the Bartholomew Master. In: Paul Pieper: Contributions to the art history of Westphalia. Volume 2. Edited and introduced by Eva Pieper-Rapp-Frick on behalf of the Friends of the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte eV. Aschendorff, Münster 2000, ISBN 3-402-05422-1 , pp. 501-533.
  • Ludwig Scheibler : Schongauer and the master of Bartholomäus. In: Repertory for Art History. Vol. 7, 1884, ISSN  0259-7063 , pp. 31-68, digitized .
  • Gabriele Uelsberg , Hans M. Schmidt , Katharina Liebetrau: Adoration of the Magi - workshop of the master of the Bartholomew altar . Ed .: LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn (=  Kulturstiftung der Länder [Ed.]: Patrimonia . No. 251 ). Berlin, Bonn 2014, DNB  1069493791 .
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum (Ed.): The Master of the Bartholomäus Altar - The Master of the Aachen Altar. Cologne painter of the late Gothic. Exhibition in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne March 25 - May 28, 1961. Catalog for the exhibition 100 Years Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Cologne 1861–1961 , Cologne 1961.

Web links

Commons : Master of the Bartholomew Altar  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Tobias Nagel: 500 years of the present , cross altar in the picture of the week, calendar week 1, 2001 , museums of the city of Cologne.
  2. Tobias Nagel: 500 years and inconspicuous - self-portrait of a fly , Thomas altar in the picture of the week, calendar week 14, 1998 , museums of the city of Cologne.
  3. Martin Schawe: Old German and Old Dutch painting Alte Pinakothek . Ed .: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung. 2nd Edition. Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2014, ISBN 978-3-7757-3904-7 , p. 190, 191 .
  4. ^ Dagmar Eichberger: Review of the publication by Budde / Krischel: Genie ohne Namen. The master of the Bartholomew altar. In: see points. Vol. 2, No. 3, March 15, 2002, online at