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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Sabina Von Steinbach

Legendary

According to legend, Sabina von Steinbach was the daughter of Erwin von Steinbach, a sculptor who had a major role in the creation of the sculptural program at Strasbourg Cathedral. Local tradition has it that Sabina stepped in to complete the project upon the death of her father and ostensibly created two figures for the south portal. In fact, the style of the figures indicates a date of circa 1225, long before her father’s death around 1318, and certainly well before Sabina’s birth, if she had in fact existed. The legend of Sabina arose from a mistranslation of an inscription on the portal that names a Sabina as the donor of the expensive stone (Stein) from which the sculptures were cut. This mistranslation was elaborated by a sixteenth-century chronicler into the legend that has come down to us.