Saint Barbara

German (Swabia)
about 1440
Unidentified artist

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 [see note 2]. Siegfried Kramarsky (b. 1893 - d. 1961), Amsterdam and New York [see note 3]; given by Siegfried Kramarsky to Dr. Siegfried Josef Thannhauser (b. 1885 - d. 1962), Freiburg, Düsseldorf, and Brookline, MA; 1963, bequest of Siegfried J. 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 sculpture can be identified with the German half-length sculpture of Saint Barbara, about 1460-1470, described in "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. A torn label, at one time affixed to the sculpture by Dr. Thannhauser, likewise states that it was lot 200 in the Figdor sale.

[2] That the sculpture belonged to Bondy is 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.

[3] The label that was once on the sculpture (as above, n. 1) states that it was a gift ("[Ge]schenk von Herrn Siegfried [Kr]amarsky, New York"). Kramarsky fled the Netherlands in 1939 and settled in New York in 1940.

Credit Line

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