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Dionysius Maler, Saint Dorothea

around 1510, broadleaf, painted, gilded,  123 x 34 x 15.5 cm
Inv. no. V/65/22/K3, found in a Zwickau middle-class house (address: Alter Steinweg 4)

The figure in nearly life size was found in a middle-class house in Zwickau, but it remains unclear how it got there. The figure originally belongs to a winged altar’s retable. With her left hand Saint Dorothea gathers her coat, gilded at the outside and inside shows a green color, in front of her body. She carries a basket – her attribute – in her right hand. It is well-known that Dionysius Maler had a very close relationship to Leonhard Herrgott, because he was working at his workshop and they temporarily even lived under one roof. According to the official recordings Dionysius is the fourth late Gothic painter and woodcarver who lived in Zwickau. The commonly used name affix ‘Maler’ (meaning painter) refers to his profession. In the Middle Ages no distinction was made between sculptor, woodcarver and ‘Fassmaler’ which means painter and gilder of sculptures and other such artworks. Saint Dorothea, martyred several times and finally beheaded in the 3rd century under the Roman emperor Diokletian, was much admired during medieval times. She belongs to the Fourteen Holy Helpers; together with Barbara, Margaret and Catharine she is one of the most frequently used companions of Madonna on late Gothic altars.


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