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Master MS

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Master MS

The Visitation : Mary visits Elizabeth (1500-1510)

Master M. S. (Hungarian: M. S. Mester, German: Meister M. S., Slovak: Majster M. S.) was a 16th-century painter who specialized in late Gothic art and in early Renaissance art.

He was active in Banská Štiavnica (to 1920 Selmecbánya in Kingdom of Hungary, since 1993 in Slovakia) and probably led a workshop there. Since his true name is unknown, he is sometimes identified with various other Gothic "masters". German art historians generally identify him with J. Brieu, a painter from Augsburg. Also some art historians identify him with Master M. Z. (also mentioned as Matthäus Zaisinger (1498–1555)) German engraver and goldsmith from Munich. According to the new research the anonym master is very likely to have been a Hungarian painter called Sebestyén, whose name is mentioned in the charter of Banská Štiavnica in 1507. His art combining dramatic depth and colourful decorative formation is akin to that of the German painters Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer, J. Brieu and mainly Mathias Grünewald.

Only seven of his panel paintings are known out of eight which used to decorate the high altar of a church in Banská Štiavnica. It was believed that the altar was in the Saint Catherine Church, but according to the new research the pictures were part of the altar in the Virgin Mary Church, later rebuilt into the fortress called the Old Castle. Now there are four Passion paintings in Esztergom,Hungary, in the Christian Museum; the painting "The Birth of Christ" is held in Svätý Anton (formerly known also as Hontszentantal) near Banská Štiavnica, and The Adoration of the Magi is in the Museum of Lille in France. His best painting entitled "The Visitation" depicts the meeting of the two saints, the Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth, is in Budapest, in the Hungarian National Gallery.

There are also three more-than-life-size wood-carved polychromed sculptures preserved which originally belong to the same altar. The statue of Madonna is in the Saint Catherine Church of Banská Štiavnica, the statues of Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara are in the art gallery of the Slovak Mining Museum in Banská Štiavnica.

At the Old Castle in Banská Štiavnica, a half-sized maquette of the altar is exhibited, featuring full-coloured photocopies of all the known panel paintings by Master MS, as well as fragments of decorative wood carvings which presumably were parts of the altar.


Books and articles about Master MS

Meister M. S. / Genthon István Berlin : 1932

450 Jahre Meister M. S. / Radocsay Dénes Budapest : 1957

M.S. mester passióképei az esztergomi Keresztény Múzeumban / Mojzer Miklós Budapest : Magyar Helikon : Corvina Kiadó Vállalat, 1976

"Magnificat anima mea Dominum" M S Mester Vizitáció-képe és egykori selmecbányai főoltára . Kiállítási katalógus Budapest : Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, 1997

Eörsi Anna: "Gemartert ward under Poncio Pylato." Megjegyzések M S mester Kálváriájának ikonográfiájához. Művészettörténeti Értesítő XLVII. 1998, 199-213. oldal

Mojzer Miklós: Tanulmányok a Keresztény Múzeumban II. : M. S. mester zászlai Művészettörténeti Értesítő 1965

Végh János: "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" M S mester Vizitáció-képe és egykori selmecbányai főoltára Új Művészet, VIII. évf. 10-11. sz. 1997. október-November, 20-22. oldal

External links

  • Master MS biography and images,, English
  • "Meeting of Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth" - a book about the painting in Hungarian
  • A photograph of the half-sized maquette of the high altar with panel paintings by Master MS
  • A photograph of the sculptures of Madonna, St. Catherine and St. Barbara, gathered together for a temporary exhibition at the Slovak Mining Museum in Banská Štiavnica
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