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Saints John the Evangelist, Scholastica and Benedict
Master of Liesborn

This is a fragment from an altarpiece made for the high altar of the Benedictine abbey at Liesborn, and is one of three in our collection from the altarpiece’s central Crucifixion scene. The fluttering drapery at the top right is part of Christ’s loincloth, which situates this fragment to the right of the Cross.

The figure on the left wearing red robes is Saint John, who, according to the Bible, was present at the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary. John is shown here with two fifth-century saints, the twins Benedict and Scholastica. Benedict was the founder of the religious order, the Benedictines, who worshipped at Liesborn. Scholastica holds a crosier carved with the Old Testament scene of the sacrifice of Isaac; in Christian theology, the event was interpreted as foretelling Christ’s own sacrifice at his crucifixion.

Key facts
Artist Master of Liesborn
Artist dates active second half of the 15th century
Full title Saints John the Evangelist, Scholastica and Benedict: Fragment of the Crucifixion Scene
Group The Liesborn Altarpiece
Date made probably 1470-80
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from oak
Dimensions 55.9 x 70.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG260
Location in Gallery Room 62
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The Liesborn Altarpiece


These images once formed part of a large altarpiece made for the high altar of the monastery church of the Benedictine Abbey at Liesborn, in Westphalia in north-west Germany. The main panel consisted of a central scene of the Crucifixion, flanked on either side by two smaller individual scenes from Christ’s infancy.

In 1517 two shutters painted by the Master of Cappenberg were added to either side of the Master of Liesborn’s original panel. These showed the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, his resurrection and events that occurred afterwards, such as the Pentecost.

The altarpiece was removed in the eighteenth century and later cut up so that only fragments survive. In the National Gallery’s collection there are three fragments of the central Crucifixion scene, a fragment of the flanking scene of the Adoration of the Kings and two complete flanking images (The Annunciation and The Presentation in the Temple) from the main panel, as well as two scenes from the inner faces of the shutters.