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Key facts
Full title Saints Jerome, Bernard (?), Giles and Benedict (?): Reverse of Right Hand Shutter
Artist Workshop of the Master of the Life of the Virgin
Artist dates active second half of the 15th century
Series Two Shutters from the Werden Altarpiece
Date made probably 1485-90
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 123.8 x 82.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG250
Location Room 65
Art route(s) A
Collection Main Collection
Saints Jerome, Bernard (?), Giles and Benedict (?)
Workshop of the Master of the Life of the Virgin

This is the outer face of the right-hand shutter of an altarpiece made for the Benedictine abbey at Werden. The outer face of the left-hand shutter, which is in the National Gallery’s collection, also shows four standing saints.

Saint Jerome, dressed in red cardinal’s robes, pets the lion that was, according to his legend, his companion from the moment he removed a thorn from its foot. Next to him are Saint Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order, and Saint Giles, a Benedictine monk. Both wear black robes – the habit, or uniform, of the Order. The small deer by Giles’s side was his only companion during his years living in a forest; according to his legend, he saved it from a hunter’s arrow. Finally, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux stands reading. The latter three all carry abbots' staffs in recognition of their role in founding monasteries.

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Two Shutters from the Werden Altarpiece

These paintings once formed the shutters of an altarpiece made for the Benedictine abbey at Werden, near Cologne in Germany. The shutters were decorated on both sides, and could be closed to protect the central part of the altarpiece, which has not been traced.

The inner and outer faces have been separated, creating four panels out of two. The inner faces, which would have been visible when the shutters were open, show events from the life of Saint Hubert. The outer faces each show four standing saints, including Saint Hubert and Saint Benedict, as well as other members of the Benedictine Order.