Scene from the Life of St. Andrew
48 3/4 x 30 1/2 in. (123.8 x 77.5 cm)
Spanish; probably made in Aragon
Medium and Support:
Oil on panel
Gift of Mr. Adolph Stuber
Location: Currently on view
This panel was once part of a large and complex altarpiece dedicated to Saint Andrew, one of Christ’s apostles. It illustrates one important episode in the saint’s life. According to Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, written around 1288, a devout bishop venerated Saint Andrew above all others saints. He began whatever he was about to do with the prayer, “To the honor of God and Saint Andrew.” This filled the devil with envy, and he turned all his cunning to the task of deceiving the bishop.
In order to accomplish this deceit, the devil took the form of a beautiful woman, who arrived at the bishop’s palace under the guise of seeking refuge from an unwanted marriage. In actuality, her intent was to seduce the bishop into breaking his vow of celibacy. The seduction was interrupted by the arrival of a pilgrim, who was asked three difficult questions. His answer to the last, that the woman could measure the space between heaven and earth because she had fallen the distance, unmasked her as the devil, shown here by her bat-like clawed hands, furred arms, and pointed ears. Later, a dream revealed to the bishop that the identity of the pilgrim was Saint Andrew.
[Gallery label text, June 2013]