This elegant sculpture still under the influence of the Gothic style depicts Saint Ursula, standing in contraposto, wearing a crown retaining her large braids curled into a bun and a band, her large forehead, eyes stretched to droopy eyelids , the tip of the raised nose and a small mouth with round chin and full cheeks. She is dressed in a centered at the waist dress, a shirt, a coat, her sleeves with a puncture showing her undershirt. She holds with her right hand the skirt of her coat which forms folds on the front, the bottom of her coat gets up showing the lining. She's placed on a pedestal (monolithic set) with cut sides with the inscription in Gothic letters on silver background that allows us to identify our sculpture: St. Ursula. The technique of punching is used on the edges of clothing (sleeves, edges of the coat, the dress), the dotted patterns are made using a sharp object, bringing relief and finesse. The collar is adorned with gold stars on the flaps obtained using the technique of sgrafitto, which is also used on the entire surface of the collar. Sgrafitto is a decorative method that consists of applying two coats of paint to one surface and then scratching the top layer to reveal the patterns. On our statue the collar is covered with red paint and blue paint, scratching the top layer, the result are red patterns in the form of lines, flowers and dots. The great refinement and the quality of execution make it possible to place our statue in an important sculpture workshop in the Brabant area (Brussels, Mechelen, Antwerp), where the great skills of local artists reache its peak at the end of the Gothic period. Specialized mainly in the manufacture of altarpieces, they achieved in this area a remarkable craftmanship, as witnessed by our statue of Saint Ursula which was originally intended to adorn an altarpiece of devotion, probably accompanied by other holy women. Exceptional condition, polychromy and gilt original. Limewood carved, polychrome and gilt.
Flanders, Brabant, circa 1500.
Height: 49.5 cm
Missing the left forearm, a lack on the pedestal.
Legend of Saint Ursula
According to the Golden Legend of Jacques de Voragine. Returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, Ursula, a Breton princess accompanied by her companions, the 11,000 virgins, is captured by the Huns besieging Cologne. Following her refusal to marry their leader Attila and to deny her faith, she and her followers are riddled with arrows. This legend was born in the 5th century during the construction of a basilica on the tombs of martyrs killed by the Huns in 383 AD The Roman numeral XI, engraved on a tomb, was incorrectly translated into 11000. She is the saint patron saint of the city of Cologne and the clothiers. She gave her name to the Order of Ursulines who are dedicated to educating young girls. She is celebrated on October 21st.
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