St Helena and St Katharina were carved from limewood between 1490 and 1500 in Germany and still have some traces, over 500 years later, of the original paint.
St Helena (left) was the mother of Constantine the Great and travelled widely in the fourth century seeking holy relics and having churches built. I wonder what travel was like then? She was thought to be in her 80's when she went to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. There is a St Helen's church in York where Constantine was proclaimed emperor on the death of his father, and she was known in Cyprus too, and I have a special admiration for her. For some unaccountable reason I always get a little thrill when I come across her.
It felt rather special to meet her this afternoon at the first exhibition I have been to for ages.
Here is St Anne teaching the young Virgin to read. She looks like a very severe teacher. Made about 1400 from oak with original paint and gilding, this comes from southern France. Imagine making the fabric of the headdress from solid oak.
St John the Evangelist is also German and carved from limewood around 1520. It was the beauty of the carving which struck me most in this one.
I wondered who made it all those years ago with such skill and attention, even to the fingernails, and what their world was like.
This beautiful exhibition took me out of myself for a couple of hours.