National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Tilman Riemenschneider: Master of Sculpture of the Late Middle Ages

Introduction | Style | The Münnerstadt Altarpiece | Chronology | Images

 Tilman Riemenschneider was one of the greatest sculptors of the late Middle Ages. A contemporary of Albrecht Dürer, he spent most of his career in the German city of Würzburg. Born around 1460, he probably served as an apprentice in Strasbourg and Ulm, two major centers of sculptural activity at the time. After Riemenschneider acquired the status of master sculptor in Würzburg in 1485, his workshop rapidly grew into one of the most prolific in Germany. It received commissions from church and civic authorities alike, including sculpture created for altarpieces, architectural ensembles, private chapels, and secular settings.

From the beginning of his career Riemenschneider demonstrated his proficiency in a variety of media, sculpting limewood, alabaster, sandstone, and marble with equal facility. Although many of his works were painted and gilded, he was one of the first sculptors to forgo the application of color, producing monochrome works. Riemenschneider served on the Würzburg municipal council and sided with the peasants in their unsuccessful revolt against the prince-bishop of the city, which abruptly ended his career in 1525.

This exhibition brings together nearly fifty of Riemenschneider’s finest works of art, spanning his entire career and a wide range of media and formats. It reunites for the first time several sculptures that once belonged to the same ensembles. The inclusion of a few works by Riemenschneider’s most important predecessors and contemporaries, such as Niclaus Gerhaert von Leiden, Michel Erhart, and Veit Stoss, allows his achievement to be viewed in a broader artistic context.

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

The exhibition Tilman Riemenschneider was on view at the Gallery through 9 January 2000.