Friday, August 16, 2013

Meister Bertram's Altars - Part 2, Buxtehude Altar

The Buxtehuder Altar, which has been variously dated from 1367-87 to 1400-10, appears to be a collection of 18 images.  The arrangement of 16 of those images are presented below, but the placement of the remaining 2 images is currently a mystery.  The only reference I've been able to find to these other two images comes from the 1905 book concerning Meister Bertram (SEE: Meister Bertram's Altars - Part 1, Grabow Altar) and they have not been included in this post as I was unable to find color images of them available.

Left panel
Row 1: (1) Joachim's Sacrifice, (2) Joachim among the Shepherds
Row 2: (3) Circumcision of Christ, (4) The Adoration of the Kings

Center panel:
Row 1: (5) Encounter under the Golden Gate, (6) The Birth of Mary, (7) The Annunciation of Mary, (8) The Visitation
Row 2: (9) Presentation in the Temple, (10) The Massacre of the Innocents, (11) The Flight into Egypt, (12) The Christ Child in the Temple

Right panel
Row 1: (13) The Birth of Christ, (14) The Annunciation to the Shepherds
Row 2: (15) The Visit of the Angels [or Knitting Madonna], (16) The Wedding at Cana

What I enjoy the most about these paintings are the everyday details which Meister Bertram chose to present.  There are flasks (or flasche) in 2, 13, 14 and 16; a two-pronged pitchfork? in 2 and 14; dining ware (dishes, jugs, knife, tablecloth) in 6 and 16; a workbasket in 15; knitting in the round (knit stitch only) in 15; a hunting horn in 14; a child's toy top with string in 15; and various clothing representations for nobles down to peasants and children.

I am curious about the belt the gentleman server is wearing in 16.  Could the piece attached to his belt indicate that some purses or pouches were hung from the belt in this manner instead of having loops on the pouch/purse which had a belt laced through it?  I have never seen this belt design, but in many ways, this would make sense as I have found that having a purse/pouch with a belt laced through it, while entirely secure, is cumbersome in many ways.  If nothing else, this may be another belt variation for wearing pouches, if that is truly its design intent.

[General Note: Attempting to pull together the various works of individual artists is definitely more of a challenge than it should be with our modern conveniences...]

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