MASTER of the Holy Kinship
(active 1480-1518 in Cologne)


German painter. He is named after an altarpiece depicting the Holy Kinship (c. 1500-03; Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Mus., ex-Dominican Kloster St Achatius). In this assembly of the relatives of the Virgin, a central group with St Anne and the Infant Jesus is flanked by SS Barbara and Catherine, the latter depicted as the Mystic Bride of Christ. On the inner sides of the wings, in front of a broad landscape, are (left) SS Roch and Nikasius with the donor, Nikasius Hackeney, and (right) SS Gudula and Elizabeth with his wife Christina. Here the Master's art is at its zenith. Solid bourgeois comfort and steadiness characterize the figures. The composition of the triptych is, as with most of his work, unassuming. However, it is pervaded by a sensitivity to colour values, shades of red being dominant.

The Master of the Holy Kinship, along with his workshop, emerged as a distinct hand among a group of artists in and around Cologne who produced altarpieces, along with more specialized pictures on stained glass. Their style was greatly influenced by Flemish painters, in particular, Hugo van der Goes and Rogier van der Weyden.