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Vrancke van der Stockt
Flemish, before 1420 - 1495

St. Margaret with a Donor
Flemish Painting
Oil on panel
18 1/8 x 7 7/8 in. (46 x 20 cm)

Marion Stratton Gould Fund,  44.15

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About the Object

This painting, which shows a woman in contemporary dress kneeling in devotion before an open prayer book, her patron saint behind her, was once the right wing of a small triptych, or three-part altarpiece. Saint Margaret, who is recognizable through her attributes, or identifying symbols, holds a cross; a fanged dragon is at her feet. According to the story, Margaret spent her life following the teachings of Christ. The governor of Antioch in the ancient Roman province of Syria, now modern Turkey, fell in love with Margaret's beauty and asked her to marry him. She rejected his proposal, vowing to remain a virgin. The governor sent her to prison, where the Devil appeared to Margaret as a dragon. She was saved by her Christian faith: when the dragon swallowed Margaret, she made the sign of the cross, which split the dragon in two and allowed her to escape from his belly unharmed.

The left panel of the altarpiece, now in the Allen Memorial Art Museum of Oberlin University in Oberlin, Ohio, is a mirror image of this scene and depicts the woman's husband also kneeling in devotion with his patron saint behind him. The center panel of the altarpiece to which the couple offers their prayers was probably a painting of the Virgin and infant Christ.

[Expanded from gallery label text, June 2013]