Saint Luke Painting the Virgin and Child, from the Weltchronik, or Liber Chronicarum [The Nuremberg Chronicle]
11.2 cm x 8.3 cm (4 7/16 in. x 3 1/4 in.)
(Nuremberg, Germany, 1434-1437 - 1519, Nuremberg, Germany)
Medium and Support:
Woodcut with hand coloring
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Tobey C. Moss, 2005
A common scene in the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Early Modern period (early 1500s) was Saint Luke painting the Virgin. According to legend, Saint Luke painted a portrait of the Virgin; thus, he became the patron saint of artists. This intimate picture shows Saint Luke at his easel accompanied by his attribute, the bull, labeling him as one of the four evangelists. The viewer of this scene is meant to meditate on the symbolic significance of the act of painting. The canvas acts a metaphor for the soul. Luke records the face of the Virgin on the canvas just as the viewer is meant to imprint the Virgin onto his heart.