Hans Syfer

(fl. 1498)

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(fl 1498; d probably in Speyer or Heilbronn, between 13 and 27 March 1509). German sculptor. His relationship to Conrat Sifer is uncertain. In his youth he was probably involved in the decoration of the Worms Cathedral cloister (begun 1484). His hand is evident in some of the figures in the sandstone relief of the Entombment (c. 1490, now in the cathedral). Syfer's masterpiece as a wood-carver is the high altarpiece dated 1498 in St Kilian, Heilbronn. Although documentary evidence is lacking, the style is the same as some stone carvings in Stuttgart and Speyer that are certainly by Hans Syfer. It is still conceived as a Late Gothic winged altarpiece: in the central panel the large standing figures and the statuettes and busts above them are set in niches beneath canopies made up of elaborate branch-work (only the figures and wing reliefs are original; the architectural parts are replacements of those destroyed in World War II). The slightly S-shaped structure of the figures and their crumpled drapery are also in the Late Gothic tradition, though the formal language already appears much quieter. However, the powerful rounded plasticity and self-assured expression of some of the heads is new.


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.