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Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece, Saints Peter and Dorothy

Key facts
Full title Saints Peter and Dorothy
Artist Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece
Artist dates active about 1470 to about 1510
Date made probably 1505-10
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 125.7 × 71.1 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG707
Location Room 25
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saints Peter and Dorothy
Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece

Saint Peter clutches a Bible with a soft leather cover to his chest. In the same hand he holds two unwieldy keys – those to the kingdom of heaven, promised to him by Christ. Saint Dorothy holds only a tiny delicate flower to her breast, presumably plucked from the basket of blooms in her left hand. The flowers are a reference to a miracle told in her legend: at Dorothy’s martyrdom, Christ delivered a basket of flowers from heaven to an unbelieving onlooker.

The artist has taken great care to imitate a range of textures faithfully, giving the impression that the saints really are standing before us. The highly polished marble column behind contrasts with the texture of the decorative textile hanging.

The panel may have formed part of the left-hand shutter of an altarpiece. At a later date the reverse was painted with one half of a scene of the Adoration of the Kings (which continues on the back of the right-hand shutter).

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