Stop 43. St. Elizabeth Holding a Book

St. Elizabeth Holding a Book
Germany, Ulm (Swabia)
Early sixteenth century
Lindenwood, with polychromed and gilt decoration
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1911


An inscription on the gown of this elegantly carved figure identifies her as St. Elizabeth. The foundry mark of the Ulm cathedral architects is located on her hem and sleeve, suggesting the sculpture’s origin. She may represent St. Elizabeth of Schönau (1129–1165), a German nun who published three volumes describing her divine visions, instead of the more well-known thirteenth-century St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207–1231), who is typically depicted holding roses or distributing alms. The statue was restored in the nineteenth century, and the hands and book may date to that period.