The art of the Master of the Saint BartholomewAltarpiece is so distinctive that, although there is little documentation of his life beyond his works, scholars have relatively easily pieced together his career. A painter, illuminator, and perhaps a monk, he settled in Cologne, Germany, in about 1480. Many of his most important commissions were produced for the Carthusians, a reclusive order of monks that had been founded nearly four hundred years earlier by Saint Bruno, a Cologne native. Stylistically independent, the Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece seems not to have formed a school. The Master's works, in a late Gothic style, are admired for their theatrical gestures, exuberant colors, and ornate costumes.
The Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece probably trained in the Netherlands. One of his earliest works is the book of hours of Sophia von Bylant, executed in Utrecht or Arnheim in about 1475. Three panels of the Saint Bartholomew altarpiece, after which the Master was named, can be found today in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.