Bernward of Hildesheim

(b. c. 960)

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(bc.960; d Hildesheim, 20 Nov. 1022).

German ecclesiastic and art patron. He was bishop of Hildesheim in Saxony from 993 until his death, and during this time it became an important centre for the arts. In 1010 he laid the foundation stone of the church of St Michael, for which he commissioned several works, notably the famous bronze doors (cast 1015) and a great bronze column (c.1015–20), probably intended to support the paschal candle (both works are now in Hildesheim Cathedral). They are important not only for being among the outstanding European works of their period, but also for marking the revival of the cire-perdue technique of casting, which had virtually disappeared since the time of Charlemagne. A contemporary biographer records that Bernward himself practised metalwork and manuscript illumination, but no work can be attributed to him. He was canonized in 1192 and is a patron saint of goldsmiths.

Subjects: Art.

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