MASTER of the Legend of Saint Ursula (II)
(active 1480-1520 in Cologne)
German painter, active in Cologne. He stands out among the Late Gothic painters of Cologne through his uncommon colouristic talent. His work is now distinctly separated from that of the Master of St Severin, to whom it was formerly attributed. He is named after a cycle of 19 known oil paintings depicting the Legend of St Ursula (1492-96; Landesmuseum, Bonn; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne; Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum, Cologne; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Musée du Louvre, Paris, and others). Although eight paintings were in St Severin, Cologne, until 1880, it is thought that the former parish church of St Brigid was the cycle's original location.
Painted with a relatively dry technique, weak in oil, on a barely primed canvas, the cycle combines a bold pictorial conception with a detailed reproduction of costumes, buildings and diverse forms of landscape. Characteristic are the pale flesh tones of some figures, emphasizing an extreme ideal of beauty, and the generally dignified, serious atmosphere, in which there is a melancholy hitherto unusual in Cologne. The iconography of the cycle reveals the painter's knowledge of earlier representations of the Legend of St Ursula and of other Cologne works, overlaid with dominant influences from Netherlandish art.