Master of the Hersbruck High Altar

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Michael Wolgemut (1434—1519)


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(flc. 1475–1500). German painter. He is named from an altarpiece (c. 1480–90) in the parish church of Hersbruck, near Nuremberg. Although the altarpiece is now dismembered, with the sculptural shrine removed (Nuremberg, Ger. Nmus.), the panels from the two pairs of movable wings are still preserved in the church at Hersbruck. These comprise a Nativity and Death of the Virgin on the panels flanking the shrine, eight scenes from the Passion displayed on the first opening of the wings, and four by another hand on the exterior, showing scenes from the Life of the Virgin. The Passion scenes, by which the Master is best known, are crowded with figures, activated by gesture and twisted postures, complicated movements of line in the drapery and contours, and abrupt shifts from foreground to distance. On the basis of the figures, compositions and colouring, the Master is associated with Hans Pleydenwurff (see Pleydenwurff, (1)) and michael Wolgemut of Nuremberg. Certain characterizations and proportions of figures also suggest that he was acquainted with Bavarian painting. Repeated but inconclusive efforts have been made to identify him with wolfgang Katzheimer, whose activity in Bamberg is documented from 1465 to 1508. Even among writers who acknowledge the separate existence of this anonymous master, there is little unanimity about all the works that should be assigned specifically to him, except the Hersbruck high altar itself.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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