EXCEPTIONAL WOOD SCULPTED REPRESENTATION OF SAINT BARBARA IN HER TOWER

EXCEPTIONAL WOOD SCULPTED REPRESENTATION OF SAINT BARBARA IN HER TOWER

 

ORIGIN: CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE

PERIOD: END OF 15th – BEGINNING OF 16th CENTURY

 

Height: 103 cm

Length: 29 cm

Depth: 27 cm

 

Oakwood and polychromed walnut

Good condition

 

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Description

Saint Barbara was the daughter of Dioscorus who imprisonned her in a tower to prevent her from being corrupted by Christianity. Despite this, she was taught and baptisted by a local priest. According to legend, she proved her faith by carving a third window into the tower, symbolic of the Trinity. Once her father learned this, he threatened her with his sword. She managed to escape and hide, not before being revealed by a sheperd. She was thrown in jail and tortured, refusing to denounce her faith. Her father forced her up to the mountain’s summit and decapitated her, afterwhich God struck him down by lightning.

Saint Barbara`s following was popularized in the Occident in the 13th century because of the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, reaching its full influence in 15th century.

 

She is here, represented at the top of her tower. She appears underneath a semicircular window. A pierced octagonal turret rises up the crenelated tower. She is clothed in a dress with a square neckline, letting her collared chemise underneath be revealed. A thin belt cinches her waist and a bonnet covers her hair.

Her head is lowered, the eyes fixed on the Holy Scriptures. Her face is sereine and in a state of deep meditation. The sculptor intended to emphasize her great piety.

This sculpture is particularly interesting because of the originality and rarity of the iconography. It was realized by a sculptor who was able to depict the softness of Saint Barbara’s face.