The Master of the Legend of St Ursula and the Master of St Severin were both active in Cologne between 1480 and 1520. The two painters are very similar in style. Common to both, for instance, is a strong Netherlandish influence. In fact it was not until the early 20th century that anyone realized that these were two separate artists. It is possible that the Master of St Severin was a Cologne-born pupil if the Master of the Legend of St Ursula, while the latter may have come to Cologne from the Netherlands in the hope of finding a good market for his art.
Both masters created not only panel paintings on wood but also extensive series of large works on canvas, and both ran workshops with a number of employees. This much can be deduced from their copious work. But we are still unsure just how the workload was divides up. A recent technological examination of the Ursula cycle has prompted conjectures that the underdrawing and thus the planning of the paintings was the personal responsibility of the master. The execution of the painting would then have been done together with other painters, who attempted to conform to the master’s style and way of painting and to imitate his main characteristics. In this way the workshop could present itself to the world at large with a unified style.