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Bohemian (?) Artist
(early 15th century)
||between 1410 and 1415
||brush and black ink, black and red chalk, grey wash on paper
||214 mm x 140 mm
||Esterházy Collection, 1870
||Prints and Drawings
In the chaotic time of the political and ideological decline of the late Middle Ages a wealth of art sprang forth. The art of around 1400, international Gothic, conquered all the important ruling centres of Europe simultaneously: courts of kings, dukes and nobles. Prague, the new imperial residence of the Holy Roman Emperor, was then at its zenith. Late Czech Gothic infiltrated not only nearby towns, but made its influence felt in the whole of Central European art.
The Budapest Saint Margaret, drawn with soft lines in the elegant pose of the "Beautiful Madonnas" so popular in international Gothic art, is probably the work of a Czech master. Madonnas and saints curved in a gentle S-shape, radiating tenderness and calm, often appear on panel pictures, as book illustrations and as statues. This Saint Margaret, her mantle falling in deep folds and shaded with a high degree of plasticity, may have been intended as a model for a sculpture.
Medieval masters did not generally work directly from nature, but gleaned inspiration from earlier works of art. The pattern sheets which preserved popular motifs were greatly respected in the workshops, and jealously guarded. However, very few drawings from this period are known. The Budapest Saint Margaret, which is in surprisingly good condition, and is unusually large for the era, is a rare, fine work of High Gothic art.