(active 1475-1500 in Bruges)

Saint Barbara

Engraving, 166 x 92 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This engraving of Saint Barbara, who was beheaded by her father for refusing to renounce Christianity, was made by an engraver known only by the initials F.V.B. (the "V.B." may stand for "van Brugge," "of Bruges"). He was one of the finest early Netherlandish engravers, and his oeuvre of about 60 prints reflects the style of such Flemish masters as Rogier van der Weyden, Dieric Bouts, and Hans Memling. In this fine example of his work, Saint Barbara, patroness of armourers and firearms, stands holding a peacock feather, a symbol of immortality, in front of the tower in which her father imprisoned her.