User Menu

MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Saint Barbara

Start collecting

Polychromed wood, hollow back. Half figure, mantle gold, dress gold and traces of blue, holds tower (white with red and blue roof tiles) in right, left arm gone. Hair on left side cut off, small cap.

Provenance

Albert Figdor (b. 1843 - d. 1927), Vienna [see note 1]; September 29 - 30, 1930, posthumous Figdor sale, Cassirer, Berlin, lot 200, sold for M 850 [see note 2]. Oscar Bondy (b. 1870 - d. 1944), Vienna and New York (?) [see note 3]. Siegfried Kramarsky (d. 1961), Amsterdam and New York [see note 4]. 1963, Siegfried J. Thannhauser, Brookline, MA; 1963, bequest of Dr. Thannhauser to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 8, 1963) NOTES: [1] That the sculpture may have belonged to Albert Figdor and was subsequently with Bondy and Kramarsky is information taken from Edward R. Lubin's appraisal of Dr. Thannhauser's collection (February 14, 1962; in MFA curatorial file). [2] Probably the German half-length sculpture of Saint Barbara, about 1460-1470, described in the Figdor auction catalogue; see "Sammlung Dr. Albert Figdor, Wien" (Berlin, 1930), vol. 4, lot 200. The description of this sculpture matches the MFA object, except that the saint is said to wear a diadem on her forehead -- an examination of the sculpture suggests that this may once have been true for the MFA object -- and damage is described on the right side of her hairstyle, not her left; this may be a simple error. [3] Attempts to identify this sculpture in inventories of Oscar Bondy's collection have not been successful. Bondy, a Jewish businessman living in Vienna, had owned a vast collection of paintings, sculptures, and works of decorative art. In 1938, when Germany occupied Austria, his collection was systematically looted by the Nazis. Mr. Bondy and his wife left Europe and emigrated to the United States, where he passed away in 1944. In the years following World War II, much of his collection was restituted to his widow and subsequently sold on the New York art market. [4] Siegfried Kramarsky left the Netherlands in 1939. If, as Lubin's notes suggest (see above, n. 1), he owned this sculpture after Oscar Bondy did, it is likely that he acquired it in the United States and not in Europe.

Credit Line

Bequest of Dr. Siegfried J. Thannhauser in memory of his wife Franziska Peiner Thannhauser

German (Swabia), Medieval, about 1440

Object Place

Swabia, Germany

Dimensions

Height 40 cm (15 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

63.591

Medium or Technique

Wood; Polychromed fruitwood

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Sculpture