The Saint Barbara Altarpiece of Master Francke and its Birgittine Context
This article discusses the iconography of the Virgin Mary cycle on the corpus and the inner wings of the St Barbara altarpiece in the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki. The retable is most famous for the paintings by the North German master called Francke depicting the legend of St Barbara. In the historiography of this altarpiece, the study of the paintings dominates over that of the reliefs. The aim of the article is to explain how and why its sculptural programme is influenced by Birgittine spirituality, and how it was connected to the bishop of Åbo/Turku, Magnus II Tavast, who, it is argued, is the most probable commissioner of the altarpiece.