Nicholas of Verdun


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(active late 12th century–early 13th century).

Mosan goldsmith, enameller, and metalworker. He is considered the greatest goldsmith and enameller of his day and a major figure in the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. Two signed works by him survive: an enamelled pulpit frontal made for the abbey church at Klosterneuburg, near Vienna (completed in 1181, damaged in 1320, and then remodelled into its present triptych-altar form); and the Shrine of St Mary for Tournai Cathedral (1205). Among the works attributed to him the most important is the Shrine of the Three Kings, made for Cologne Cathedral in about 1190, which is the largest and most sumptuous reliquary of the period. All three works still belong to the churches for which they were commissioned. The Klosterneuburg Altar is his masterpiece, featuring 45 enamel plaques (more were later added) in an elaborate typological programme, events from the New Testament being paralleled by ones in the Old Testament. His figure style is expressive and dynamic, with individualized faces and richly articulated drapery suggesting influence from the antique.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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