Master of the former Marian altar from the Franciscan monastery in Okoličné near Liptovský Mikuláš belongs among the best painters of the Central European Late Gothic and he worked with other important Spiš sculptors, including Master Pavol.
Unlike Master Pavol, his work remains relatively unknown – both domestically and abroad. Most of the paintings by Master of Okoličné stands out by its attractive synthesis of the Dutch Gothic Art (landscape with architecture, selective interest in descriptive details) and the Italian Renaissance (figure gestures, delicate glazes, etc.). The artist maintained efficient studio, source of several others excellent works, today mostly church property (two side altars in Smrečany, 1510) or painting the Altar of the Visitation in St. Elisabeth Cathedral in Košice (1516).
The altar, which gave the name to the anonymous painter, was dismantled back in the 18th century, but its parts have been preserved in several collections in Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The Slovak National Gallery succeeded in acquiring one of the panels in 2010 – Crucifixion – from said altar. Completion of its restoration (Petra Hoffstädterová, 2017) is an incentive to organise this exhibition.
The form of the exhibit will be unconventional for many visitors. It will include an analytical exhibition on one floor of the Esterházy Palace, which contains about 40-50 Gothic artefacts – altar triptychs, panels, sculptures and prints. However, as important as the original pieces will also be the presentation of new knowledge from the restoration of the altar panels and the historical research directly in Okoličné. The theme of that exhibit will be art history and technology (issues of materials, attribution, genesis of style, oeuvre studio, etc.) made available to visitors through new media (virtual architectural reconstruction, restoration process documentation, use of animation graphics, panel paintings).
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with several essays on the architecture of monastery church, its original altar, but also on noble families from Okoličné and Smrečany. They are complemented by the contributions by conservators and dendrologists. The publication also includes an annotated catalogue of the exhibited works, or more precisely, of all available works by Master of Okoličné.