St Eligius was a blacksmith and goldsmith of such skill that he was able to make two precious thrones from the same quantity of gold he had taken for a single throne, in this way winning the admiration of Chlothar II, the king of the Franks, and later of Dagobert I, who put him in charge of the royal mint. Leopold Layer also depicted another interesting legend from the life of the saint, in a genre style. The story presents Eligius as an ingenious and skilful farrier. A horse was brought to him that was so wild that no one had been able to shoe it. Eligius simply removed the horse’s leg, shod the hoof and reattached the leg. This is why he is venerated as the patron saint of blacksmiths, goldsmiths, coachmen and vets.
The painting is brought to life by numerous details such as the glass, bottle and mortar on the ledge above the furnace and the selection of blacksmith’s tools and horseshoes to the left.
The image is painted onto the front of an ecclesiastical banner (a fabric banner with a piece of canvas, painted on both sides, sewn into it) that would have been carried in processions marking important festivities. The back of the banner showed St Sebastian and St Roch, the patron saints of plague victims and protectors against plague.