Grisaille painting on a dark blue background
Mixed technique on limewood, size of each 123 x 37 cm (48 1/2 x 14 1/2 ins)
Extremely remarkable example of a grisaille painting genre that is rarely found in this quality in Germany. This masterly painting with the visible outlines of the preliminary drawing was done by an artist whose "Dürer-Nuremberg" style is very obvious. Even with overall cool grey shading and consistent lighting from the right, the coloring changes with each individual figure. The saints are interpreted as living beings, not as statues, their lips partially accented with red. Along with the wonderfully delicate brush drawing and in places brilliantly "airy" fashion, other characteristics of this painter are stark dark/light contrasts, black outlines as well as a fondness for fluttering ribbons.
Apart from the manner of composition and the spatial placement of the figures that are quite conform with Dürer's conception, the panels directly reflect the grisaille paintings on the Heller Altarpiece in Frankfurt which were also painted in the Dürer workshop in 1508/09. The halos in the form of stone-like nimbi can also be seen there, and the figure of St. Thomas (the outer right figure on the right panel) and of St. Peter on the Heller Altarpiece are the same, just reversed. Even the scale and proportion of the figures completely match those in the Heller grisailles from the Dürer workshop.
To date, neither the altar where these impressive panels were once located nor the name of the painter could be determined. The most recent ascription to Hans Süß von Kulmbach will certainly require further discussion.