UNKNOWN MASTER, Bohemian
(active around 1430 in Vyssi Brod)
The Nativityc. 1430
Tempera on pine panel, 100 x 72 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest
The painter is referred to as the Master of the Vyssi Brod (Hohenfurth) Carrying of the Cross. This master was the most attractive and most gifted South-Bohemian painter of the third decade of the 15th century. (This master is not identical with the more famous Master of Hohenfurth, active in 1350-70 in Prague.)
The miraculous event is represented in a scene of many figures, including Joseph, the Virgin Mary and the group of angels adoring the Child, as well as the shepherds listening to the heavenly message behind the stable. As a sign of the new times and increased demand for realism, space construction has grown more intricate, the building is less like scenery and the picture is crowded with figures. Congestion is enhanced by the great number of characters, many animals, and the scroll containing glorifying words. All these are, however, marked by a cool, distinguished restraint, conforming to the pictorial concepts which ruled in the early decades of the century. This restraint radiates from the faces of the protagonists, perhaps still more clearly from those of the angels; it is intensified by the colouring and conveyed by the treatment of the garments. The folds of the Virgin's cloak and those of the draperies hung over the beam seem to radiate coldness.