14th - 16th Century Gallery - Painting & Decorative Arts Level 1, NGV International
This carved oak figure, once painted, is a late example of the ‘Beautiful’ or ‘International’ style which pervaded central Europe around 1400. This courtly aesthetic is characterised by an undulating S-curve of the body, and the use of modern luxury dress. Barbara is shown with the tower in which she was locked away from suitors and where she converted to Christianity. Traces of red on her robe indicate a martyr’s gown. Barbara was believed to provide protection against lightning and explosions, and thus may have been made for a domestic setting, conceivably in a covered but visible area outside a house.