Shepherds Purse: painting - Pursuit of St. Barbara

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The work here is an altarpiece entitled "Pursuit of St. Barbara" by Meister Francke, created ca. 1415. Although the text is coy on the specifics, the context suggests tha the work is German. Looking generally at the characteristics of shepherds in art, note that the two here are carrying the "shovel-staffs" also found in late 15th c. French and Flemish tapestries. The righthand shepherd has a bulging white cloth hanging slung from his belt, apparently fastened only by having the corners tucked under the belt with their ends hanging loose. With the sash-belts, this example suggests a link between the use of an ordinary piece of cloth as a carrying mechanism, and the evolution of a purpose-built pouch of similar form.



Russell, Francis. 1967. The World of Dürer 1471-1528. Time Incorporated, New York. p.42