Master of St Augustine

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(fl c.1490). Painter, active in the southern Netherlands. He is named after the fragmentary St Augustine altarpiece, the central panel of which (1.30×1.53 m; New York, Cloisters) shows scenes from the Life of St Augustine, culminating in his coronation as Bishop of Hippo. The right wing (1.36×0.65 m; Dublin, N.G.) shows St Augustine's Vision of St Jerome and the Death-bed of St Augustine. Another cut-down fragment depicting SS Augustine and Paul (990×665 mm; Aachen, Mus. B.-A.) matches the Dublin wing. To this corpus, Friedländer added three male portraits and a St Nicholas Enthroned (999×804 mm; Bruges, Groeningemus.). In the background of the latter are scenes of Bruges, including the towers of the belfry, which were remodelled four times between 1480 and 1502, thus enabling Friedländer to date the painting to c.1490 and assign the Master to Bruges. Other scholars, however, have shown that the St Nicholas is a 16th-century copy of an earlier work (Janssens de Bisthoven and Parmentier), and there has been a tendency (Huyghebaert) to revert to the earlier attribution to the master of the Legend of st lucy, who often depicted the belfry in his backgrounds. If this is correct, there is no basis for placing the Master of St Augustine in Bruges. Unidentified coats of arms on the Dublin wing of the St Augustine altarpiece may provide a new provenance for this Master, whose expert rendition of surfaces is typical of 15th-century Netherlandish art. His depictions of ecclesiastical robes are minutely observed, and his portrait heads are precise and detailed in a style reminiscent of Jan van Eyck and others, but they remain somewhat wooden, as do his figure-groups.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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