An early Netherlandish episode in the mural painting in the Church of St Barbara in Kutná Hora?
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The article examines the mural paintings in the Smíškovský Chapel in the Church of St Barbara in Kutná Hora to determine the probable origin and training of the unknown artist behind them. The paintings were created between 1488 and 1492 to decorate the burial chapel of Michal of Vrchoviště and they are among the most important painted monuments from late mediaeval Bohemia. They constitute a conceptually sophisticated representation of salvation, in which the central scene is the Crucifixion painted on the east wall. The paintings are the result of an intricate mixture of artistic influences and are evidence of the close ties that existed at that time between society in Kutná Hora and major central European cities. They show reflections of the works of the Early Netherlandish painters and Italianate themes, which may have served as sources of inspiration for the artist, who was probably based in the area of Southern Germany in the 1470s and 1480s, and there is clear evidence of his links to Nuremburg. Based on formal similarities identified in these paintings there are grounds to assume that the artist had some contact with the epigones of Rogier van der Weyden or their works. While it cannot be ruled out that the artist himself spent time in the Southern Netherlands, there is very little evidence of any direct ties to Italy. In the conclusion of the article the author attempts to identify the artist and puts forth two hypotheses that agree with a newly proposed dating for the paintings. The presence of the unknown artist in Kutná Hora coincides with the period during which Master Briccius was working as a stonemason on completing the Church of St Barbara. From this the author concludes that if Master Briccius, who was known in archival records not only as a stonemason, but also a painter, was not himself the creator of the paintings, then the artist could have been one of his immediate associates. Alternatively, the author suggests a North European painter in a group of Italian painters whom archival records indicate were working in Kutná Hora for King Vladislas II at the time the paintings were created.
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