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Tilman Riemenschneider

(c. 1460—1531)


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(b Heiligenstadt, c.1460; d Würzburg, 7 July 1531).

German sculptor, active in Würzburg, where he settled in 1483. With Veit Stoss, he was the outstanding German late Gothic sculptor, and his workshop was large and productive (his activities are exceptionally well documented for the time). He worked a good deal in stone, but he was primarily a woodcarver, and he was evidently the first German sculptor to leave his wooden figures un-polychromed (although they were not entirely uncoloured, as he used pigmented varnish and picked out details such as eyes and lips in colour). His style was intricate, but also balanced and harmonious, with none of the extreme emotionalism often seen in German art of the period. He held various offices in city government, and in 1525 he was briefly imprisoned and perhaps tortured because he was one of the councilmen who refused to support the use of force against the rebels in the Peasants' War. Much of Riemenschneider's work is still in the churches for which it was created, a magnificent example being the Holy Blood altarpiece (1501–5) in the Jakobskirche, Rothenburg ober der Tauber. It formed a kind of giant reliquary for a drop of Christ's blood, and this dictated the iconography, the main scene showing the institution of the Eucharist. Riemenschneider is also well represented in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, and the Mainfränkisches Museum, Würzburg. Two of his sons, Jörg and Hans, were sculptors, and two others, Bartholomäus (a pupil of Dürer) and Tilman, were painters.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.


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