TillbakaNotions of the Heavenly

St Lawrence

Polychrome painted figure of St Lawrence, carved in broadleaf wood. Made c. 1500 in the workshop of Haaken Gulleson.

St Lawrence is frontally positioned, standing in a dorsal. He is wearing a red dalmatic with a pattern of golden flowers and with a gold-coloured border. Under the dalmatic we glimpse the white alb, which has a red border at the bottom.

The saint is holding a book in his left hand and probably once held a gridiron in his right. The book and, in particular, the gridiron are his attributes. The two attachment points on a level with his right thigh and knee indicate that he one held a gridiron. St Lawrence is framed by the finely carved Gothic tracery of the dorsal. The back of the dorsal is painted with an imaginative blue and gold pattern of plants and birds. The saint is also surrounded by a gilded halo.

The dorsal was not originally made for this figure, as witness the way in which the tracery comes down in front of it, added to which, the paintwork does not tally with the figure’s outlines, and the dorsal has a low podium carved to suit the figure.

St Lawrence was a common patron saint of Swedish churches, and a letter of indulgence from 1468 shows him to be that of Bollnäs Church. He probably used to occupy a central position to the right of the central scene in the altarpiece of the high altar. St Lawrence was a Roman deacon, martyred in 258. Legend has it that he was roasted to death on a gridiron, hence the attribute.