Nicolaus Alexander Mair von Landshut - inv. 1045

Nicolaus Alexander Mair von Landshut (c. 1460-c. 1520)

A Saint Forced to Worship Idols
tempera on panel  
41,1 x 32,5 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1045

Foreign Artist Room
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This work is linked to A Saint Beaten and Imprisoned (inv. 1046).

The two paintings show scenes of a saint’s martyrdom. In the first, the saint is forced to kneel in front of a pagan temple to worship an idol, which is in ruins on the ground though, felled by the force of the true faith. In the second, the same person, bound and beaten, is being dragged into prison. The saint is possibly the apostle Bartholomew, but no elements exist to indicate any certain conclusion. The many similarities suggest the two panels belonged to the same complex: both compositions have been arranged almost symmetrically, with repetitions and variations. There is a column, or pillar, in both that divides the space into two: one part occupied by an architectural structure, the other showing the main action in the foreground with a road rising in the background towards a group of buildings, next to a balustrade with some onlookers.
The scenes are complex with a strong narrative element, typical of northern art. The curling drapery, light flickering on stones and metals, and the contrast between the traditional golden background and the perspective elements also come from the same stylistic area. The artist is the German Mair von Landshut, a painter and engraver whose life is almost unknown. His name is linked to two paintings realised in his native town of Freising and in Munich, and to numerous engravings.
The Poldi Pezzoli panels can be approximately dated to the first decade of the 16th century.




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