Carved Walnut Figure of Saint Barbara, circa 1600
Carvings of Saint Barbara are normally seen with a tower (in which she was imprisoned by her father), and carrying a book – from which she learnt about the new religion, Christianity.
It is said that Saint Barbara was of great beauty, and the sculpture conveys this well, with superb detailing of her hair and face. Barbara’s raised hand holds a string of pearls around her neck, whilst her right knee pushes through the rich folds of her gown, and is seen leaning slightly back from the waist, giving a gentle and relaxed posture – often called the “soft style”, much favoured by sculptures after the beginning of the 16th century. This figure is carved in the round, with a deep, hollow back (to prevent the wood from splitting).
Walnut and polychromy. Northern France, probably Picardy, circa 1600