UNKNOWN MASTER, Hungarian
(active around 1490)

Saint Martin and the Beggar

c. 1490
Tempera on wood, 88 x 91 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

The panel, painted on both sides, was part of the moving wing of a winged altarpiece. The panel represents the best-known episode from the legend of St. Martin. The young knight at the town-gate of Amiens cuts his cloak in two and gives half of it to a beggar. In the interior represented on the left side of the picture another episode from the legend can be seen. Christ appears at night to Martin, who suddenly realizes that it was the Saviour himself who put him to the test in the guise of a beggar. He is then baptized.

The building on the left, decorated with statues mounted on brackets, and the room into which we can look, show the distant influence of Netherlandish art. This building, a fantastic edifice of many storeys, is an imaginative feat on the part of the painter. Although it seems the painter had some difficulty in representing the figure on horseback, his skill is amply demonstrated in the symmetrical composition, the distressed expression of the faces, the careful treatment of such details as the hair and the beard, and also the freshness of the colours.




© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.