National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Tilman Riemenschneider: Master of Sculpture of the Late Middle Ages


Introduction | Style | The Münnerstadt Altarpiece | Chronology | Images

c. 1460
Tilman Riemenschneider born in Heiligenstadt im Eichsfeld.
c. 1465
Tilman Riemenschneider the Elder, the sculptor’s father, moves with his family to Osterode am Harz, where he becomes master of the mint.
A Tilman Riemenschneider abandons his position as curate of the altar of Saint Anne in the church of Stift Hau in Würzburg. It is not clear whether this is the young sculptor or another person.
Riemenschneider finds employment as a journeyman in a workshop in Würzburg, where he joins the Saint Luke’s brotherhood.
Marries Anna Schmidt, née Uchenhofer (d. 1494), acquires citizenship, and becomes a master. His workshop is located in the house "zum Wolmannsziechlein."
Signs a contract on 26 June with the municipal council of Münnerstadt for an altarpiece for the church of Mary Magdalen; the altarpiece is erected in September 1492.
Signs a contract on 5 May with the municipal council of Würzburg for sandstone figures of Adam and Eve for the south portal of the Marienkapelle; the figures are installed in September 1493.
On 7 April the municipal council of Windsheim commissions sculpture, including a Crucifixion, for the high altar of the parish church of Saint Kilian. The encasement had been provided by a Nuremberg joiner. The figures are delivered in 1496-1497 (destroyed by fire in 1730).
Signs a contract on 21 October with Lorenz von Bibra, prince-bishop of Würzburg, for the funerary monument of his predecessor, Rudolf von Scherenberg (ruled 1466-1495), which is installed in Würzburg Cathedral in 1499. The city council of Rothenburg commissions a now-lost Marian altarpiece for the Jakobskirche from a Würzburg sculptor, probably Riemenschneider.
Riemenschneider marries Anna Rappolt (d. 1506 or 1507).
Signs a contract on 19 August for the tomb of Emperor Heinrich II and Empress Kunigunde in Bamberg Cathedral; the monument is completed and installed in September 1513.
Produces a Crucifixion group for the choir beam in the church of Saint Kilian in Windsheim (destroyed by fire in 1730).
c. 1500
Riemenschneider and his shop begin carving a cycle of sandstone figures of Christ, John the Baptist, and the apostles for the buttresses of the Marienkapelle in Würzburg, which are installed in late 1506.
Signs a contract on 15 April with the Rothenburg municipal council for the Holy Blood altarpiece in the Jakobskirche. The encasement had been commissioned in 1499 from the Rothenburg joiner Erhart Harschner. The figures are delivered in installments in 1502, 1504, and early 1505.
Elected to the Würzburg city council.
Among the delegates of the municipal council to greet Emperor Maximilian on his visit to Würzburg. The municipal council of Rothenburg commissions a Saint Anne altarpiece for its Marienkapelle, of which fragments may still exist; the retable is installed in 1506.
A sculptor from Würzburg, presumably Riemenschneider, carves a crucifix for the castle chapel in Wittenberg, commissioned by Prince-Elector Friedrich the Wise (the sculpture is destroyed by fire in 1760).
Riemenschneider makes a table for the Würzburg city hall.
Receives payments for an All Saints retable for the high altar of the church of the Dominican nuns in Rothenburg; figures from that altarpiece may still exist.
Marries Margarete Wurzbach (d. around 1520).
Works on the decoration of the high altar of Würzburg Cathedral, which is still incomplete in 1519; the altarpiece is dismantled in 1701.
First elected to the Upper Council in Würzburg. His retable of Christ and the Apostles, commissioned by Elisabeth Bachknapp, is installed in the church of Saint Kilian in Windsheim.
Serves a second term on the Upper Council. Receives a commission for a small altarpiece, no longer extant, for the Frickenhausen parish church.
1514 or 1515
Delivers a canopy for the bronze baptismal font of the Ochsenfurt parish church (canopy destroyed in 1674).
Delivers a crucifix for the Steinach parish church.
Elected to the Upper Council for a third term.
Signs an estate settlement with his children. Marries his fourth wife, a woman named Margarete (surname unknown).
1520 or 1522
Funerary monument of Prince-Bishop Lorenz von Bibra (ruled 1495-1519) is erected in Würzburg Cathedral.
Riemenschneider is mayor of Würzburg.
Serves as mayor emeritus and a member of the Upper Council.
Works on the Virgin of the Rosary for the pilgrimage church at Volkach.
During the Peasants’ Revolt, Würzburg opposes Prince-Bishop Konrad von Thüngen (ruled 1519-1530). The city surrenders on 7 June and asks the prince-bishop for forgiveness. Riemenschneider, as a member of the municipal council, is arrested, questioned, and tortured. He is released from the Marienberg fortress on 8 August. A portion of his estate is confiscated.
Sandstone relief of the Lamentation is erected in the church of the Cistercian nuns at Maidbronn.
Riemenschneider carries out restoration work on altarpieces that had been damaged during the Peasants’ Revolt in the church of the Benedictine nuns in Kitzingen.
Dies in Würzburg on 7 July and is buried in the cathedral cemetery, between the cathedral and the Neumünster; his tombstone is unearthed during street work in 1822.

Introduction | Style | The Münnerstadt Altarpiece | Chronology | Images | Purchase the Catalogue

Adapted from Tilman Riemenschneider. Frühe Werke [exh. cat., Mainfränkisches Museum Würzburg] (Regensburg, 1981), 20-21. (Translation by Julien Chapuis)