This panel illustrates an early event in Clare’s life. On Palm Sunday 1212, the bishop of Assisi handed the eighteen-year-old Clare a palm, a symbolic gesture arranged by Saint Francis. Shortly afterward, the young woman gave up her luxurious life as the daughter of a wealthy nobleman. Her hair was shorn, alluded to by the scissors in Saint Francis’ hand. Her rich garments, shown here, were abandoned when she was received into the Franciscan Order. Eventually, Saint Francis helped her to establish her own order – the Order of the Poor Clares, a community committed to vows of poverty.
This panel comes from an altarpiece devoted to the life of Saint Clare and made for the convent of the Poor Clares in either Nuremberg or Bamberg. The figures stand out against a delicately tooled background. Animated gestures, rich textures, and a limited range of colours provide dramatic emphasis.
Among the earliest German medieval panel paintings preserved is a series of altarpiece fragments probably made for the convent of the Poor Clares in Nuremberg. (Tempera on wood, 1360)