The Hradec Králové Master / The Virgin Mary with SS Barbara and Catherine
Evidence of the latter is the unique panel painting depicting the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus flanked on her right by St Barbara and on her left by St Catherine. The two saints are easily identified by their attributes: St Barbara carries in her hands a tower symbolising her immurement by her father, while St Catherine carries the sword with which she was deca- pitated. At the centre of the picture the Virgin carries in her arms the infant Jesus who holds a book as a symbol of the Christian faith. The remaining figure in the picture is a nobleman kneeling at the feet of the Mother of God. The sign of his nobility is the coat of arms placed at his feet and the horse with its ceremonial saddle. According to the custom of the time the figure of the donor, who belongs to the earthly realm, is depicted on a much smaller scale than the other figures, who belong to the the celestial kingdom. The uniformly gold background, symbolising eternity, looks somewhat anachronistic in this painting. By the end of the 15th century painters quite often placed their figures in a landscape setting, which brought the sacred reality closer to worldly life.