MASTER of the Legend of Saint Lucy
(active c. 1480 - 1510 in Bruges)


Flemish painter and draughtsman. This name was coined to identify the artist responsible for a group of paintings linked stylistically to the panel of the Legend of St Lucy (1480; Bruges, St Jacob). Some 45 to 50 paintings are associated with this master, although variations among them suggest workshop participation in certain cases. Some silverpoint drawings have also been attributed to him. Depictions of the city of Bruges in the background of some of his paintings record changes in the belfry, which was being remodeled from 1483 to c. 1502. Four distinct forms of the belfry are recorded in them, and on this and the stylistic evidence of the paintings themselves a chronology for the artist's works was proposed. The Virgin among Holy Women (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels), dated to c. 1490, typifies his mature style: ponderous figures occupy a shallow space near the picture plane in a static, symmetrical composition with lush foliage and brocaded garments that display a detailed rendering of surface textures characteristic of 15th-century Netherlandish art.

The Master's paintings are technically proficient reworkings of established themes. As a narrative, the Legend of St Lucy is unusual among the artist's surviving works, as most of them are devotional images, including, in particular, many images of the Virgin, such as the Brussels Virgin among Holy Women, a Virgin and Child Enthroned (County Museum of Art, Los Angeles) and a half-length Virgin and Child (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA). The static compositions, cool colours and subdued emotion of his works (e.g. the triptych of the Lamentation; Institute of Art, Minneapolis) give his paintings a solemn, rather than expressive, effect.