chapter  4
22 Pages

The Tree of Jesse and the Schöllenbach Altarpiece

A Case Study
BySusan L. Green

Previous chapters have explored the late medieval use of Tree of Jesse iconography, through its inclusion as a prefiguration of the Birth of the Virgin in the Speculum humanae salvationis, the subsequent appropriation of the subject by those keen to promote devotion to Saint Anne and its adoption by religious orders to meet their own specific needs. Those chapters looked at a range of works, often in different media, in an attempt to ascertain both the purpose of the imagery and the scope of renewed interest in the subject. This chapter will focus on only one work, the magnifi-cent Schöllenbach altarpiece, exploring its provenance and function to provide a better understanding of exactly why the Tree of Jesse motif might have been employed by an individual patron in the early sixteenth century, and, more generally, how it could have been understood by a wider audience (Figure 4.1).