Master of the Mauer Altar

(fl. c. 1500—1530)

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(fl c. 1500–30). German wood-carver, possibly a member of the Kriechbaum family. He is named from the carved lime-wood altar of the Virgin in the pilgrimage church of Mauer (consecrated 1509) near Melk (Lower Austria). The altar, which was produced c. 1510 either for Mauer or for Göttweig Abbey (erected 1510), is not uniform stylistically and was later altered. The predella is untraced. The subject, which combines themes of the Crucifixion and the Life of the Virgin, is not necessarily as originally planned. The shrine (central panel) has a multifigured composition depicting the Coronation of the Virgin with the Intercession of the Saints. The almost classical, strictly symmetrical design possibly indicates knowledge of Albrecht Dürer's Heller Altarpiece (1509; destr. 1729) and his woodcut of the Assumption (b. 94) from the cycle of the Life of the Virgin (Nuremberg, 1510), the earlier scenes of which provided a direct model for the reliefs on the wings (Annunciation and Visitation). The scene of the Nativity, however, follows an engraving by Martin Schongauer. (The reliefs and figures of prophets in the upper part are evidently by a different hand from the group on the shrine.) In addition, the animated figures of the souls and their intercessors are reminiscent of the turbulent dramatic quality of Dürer's Large Passion print cycle (Nuremberg, c. 1497–1500), which may also be the source of a certain predilection for caricatured, grotesquely exaggerated faces.


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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