This imposing painted oak altarpiece tells the story of Saint Margaret of Antioch, who was martyred for refusing to renounce Christianity. It was probably made in Hamburg or Lüneburg in North Germany, about 1520, probably for the church of St John in Lüneburg. This church contained 40 altarpieces prior to the Protestant Reformation (1517–1648), when many churches and cathedrals were stripped of their contents.
It was common practice for many craftsmen to work together on such large altarpieces. The style of the elongated heads in the two lower right panels, so different from the others, suggests they were made by a different artist.
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