Hans Ruprecht Hoffmann


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(b Worms, 1543; d Trier, June 1616). German sculptor and medallist. He was the most important German sculptor working west of the Rhine during the late 16th century and early 17th. He was apprenticed to Dietrich Schro (c. 1515–94) in Mainz from 1554 and may have worked for Johann von Trarbach (fl 1568–1610) in Simmern (Rheinland-Pfalz). By 1568 ‘Ruprecht the sculptor’ was in Trier, and soon afterwards he began to receive important commissions. Hoffmann and his large workshop produced at least 100 altars, religious reliefs, pulpits, epitaphs and other stone- carvings, mainly for towns in the archbishopric of Trier. Most of his finest works are in Trier Cathedral and the adjacent Liebfrauenkirche. Between 1570 and 1572 he carved the elaborate sandstone cathedral pulpit. The seven reliefs on the pulpit and stair are modelled on prints by Maarten van Heemskerck. In the Last Judgement scene Hoffmann ably reproduced Heemskerck's emphatic, twisting nude forms and emotional drama. Although Hoffmann borrowed motifs from both Heemskerck and Cornelis Floris, including strapwork, pilasters and console masks, he combined these elements in an attractive and clearly legible ensemble, in which the architecture and sculpture are balanced. From the late 1590s Hoffman's workshop, in which his son Heinrich Hoffmann (1576–1623) also worked, produced an increasingly large amount of stone-carving, with a resulting unevenness of quality. By contrast with his earlier works, the heavy architectural frame of Hoffmann's late masterpiece, the sandstone All Saints’ altarpiece (1614; Trier Cathedral), threatens to be engulfed by the abundance of relief carvings and statuettes. Here, he experimented with contrasts of light and shade and recession. The free-standing statuette of the Virgin appears to step forward from the surrounding group of saints and apostles, who are carved in varying degrees of high relief. Closer to the viewer are the near life-size statues of St Michael and the kneeling donor, the Archbishop-Elector Lothar von Metternich. His later designs became increasingly complex, but he continued to stress the stylistic unity of his compositions.


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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