Saint Barbara

German (Swabia)
about 1440
Unidentified artist (Swedish)

Object Place: Swabia, Germany


Height 40 cm (15 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood; Polychromed fruitwood

Not On View





Polychromed wood, hollow back. Half figure, mantle gold, dress gold and traces of blue, holds tower (white with red and blue roof tiles) in right, left arm gone. Hair on left side cut off, small cap.


Albert Figdor (b. 1843 - d. 1927), Vienna; September 29 - 30, 1930, posthumous Figdor sale, Cassirer, Berlin, lot 200, sold for M 850 [see note 1]. Possibly Oscar Bondy (b. 1870 - d. 1944), Vienna and New York. Siegfried Kramarsky (d. 1961), Amsterdam and New York [see note 2]. 1963, Siegfried J. Thannhauser, Brookline, MA; 1963, bequest of Dr. Thannhauser to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 8, 1963)

[1] There is a Figdor collection label on the back of the sculpture (F 2641). This is probably the German half-length sculpture of Saint Barbara, about 1460-1470, described in the Figdor auction catalogue; see "Sammlung Dr. Albert Figdor, Wien" (Berlin, 1930), vol. 4, lot 200. The description of this sculpture matches the MFA object, except that the saint is said to wear a diadem on her forehead -- an examination of the sculpture suggests that this may once have been true for the MFA object -- and damage is described on the right side of her hairstyle, not her left; this may be a simple error.

[2] That the sculpture belonged to Bondy and Kramarsky is information taken from Edward R. Lubin's appraisal of Dr. Thannhauser's collection (February 14, 1962; in MFA curatorial file). Attempts to identify this sculpture in inventories of Oscar Bondy's collection have not been successful.

Credit Line

Bequest of Dr. Siegfried J. Thannhauser in memory of his wife Franziska Peiner Thannhauser