The Mariapfarr Altarpiece: Detail, the Dormition

15th century
Parish church, Mariapfarr, Austria

The painting is in the upper right of the Mariapfarr Altarpiece, seen at right, in Mariapfarr, Austria. It follows the tradition of layering medieval funeral rites over the first-century passing of Mary. St. Peter gazes at a liturgical book and holds an aspergillum and situla (aspersorium) for sprinkling water on the deceased. The apostle in front of him holds a censer. (He is possibly St. Bartholomew, with the curly black hair ascribed to him in the Golden Legend.) On the other side of the bier another apostle (beardless, so most likely St. John) places a candle in Mary's hands. It is also common for Dormitions to portray the apostles in bare feet. The small figure in the upper right corner is probably St. Thomas, who the legends say was absent at the time.

In addition, the artist includes a number of details that can only be symbolic: the scroll, plates, and empty candle holder above Mary's head; the notice posted on the wall (alas, not legible in my photograph); the cover popping off the round box (of scrolls?) below the bier, and the single candle burning in the elaborate holder in the foreground.

For the date of this work, see my comments on the Coronation panel.

This image in full resolution
The photo of the whole altarpiece in full resolution
More of The Dormition

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.