STRIGEL, Hans II
(active 1450-1480 in Memmingen)

Sts Florian, John the Baptist and Sebastian

c. 1480
Tempera on pine panel, 205 x 110 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

Memmingen, a Swabian town, gave a home to the Strigel family. The large-size altarpiece with outer wings hinged (which this panel belongs to) was made in collaboration by the two brothers Hans the Younger and Ivo Strigel. Ivo (b. 1430, Memmingen, d. 1516, Memmingen) painted altarpieces like his brother Hans II, and supplied them as far afield as Lake Constance, the Grisons and the Tyrol. He was variously referred to as a painter or sculptor, but the evidence gives no clear picture of the range or exact nature of his activities.

The panel is a wing of the polyptych, which explains the grouping of the figures. Though these appear against a golden background decorated with a vigorously winding floral pattern, they stand on firm, realistic ground, bringing the group into a distant relationship with the Italian 'sacra conversazione'. The basic colours of the three figures' garments - black, crimson and green - melt into a tonal unity rarely encountered in German panels. The attribute of Florian, a house in flames, is much larger than the usual toy-like size of similar earlier representations, having started on the course from a symbol to a real object with a life of its own. It was evidently to counterbalance this increased volume that the artist decided to paint this saint's legs in tights which make the silhouette look slimmer, while the other two are covered by wide cloaks reaching to the ground.