Images of Medieval Art and Architecture

Text from Sacred and Legendary Art
by Anna Jameson
Third Editon: London, 1911
Page 244

Saint Bartholomew
In Italian, San Bartolomeo
In French, St. Barthélemi
Saint's Day- August 24

As St. Bartholomew is nowhere mentioned in the canonical books except by name in enumerating the apostles, there been large scope for legendary story, but in works of Art he is not a popular saint. According to one tradition, he was the son of a husbandman; according to another, lie was the son of prince Ptolomeus. After the ascension of Christ, traveled into India, even to the confines of the habitable world, carrying with him the Gospel of St. Matthew; returning thence, he preached in Armenia and Cilicia; and coming to the city of Albanopolis, he was condemned to death as a Christian: lie was first flayed and then crucified.

In single figures and devotional pictures Bartholomew sometimes carries in one hand a book, the Gospel of St. Matthew but his peculiar attribute is a large knife the instrument of his martyrdom. The legends describe him as having a quantity of strong black hair and a bushy grizzled beard; and this portrait being followed very literally by the old German and Flemish painters gives him, with his large knife, the look of a butcher. In Italian pictures, though of a milder and more dignified appearance, he has frequently black hair; and sometimes dark and resolute features; yet the same legend describes him as of a cheerful countenance, wearing a purple robe and attended by angels. Sometimes St. Bartholomew has his own skin hanging over his arm, as among the saints in Michaelangelo's Last Judgment, where he is holding forth his skin in one hand, and grasping his knife in the other....

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