Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
RENAISSANCE]
497
SCULPTURE


adhere to medieval thought and arrangement. The Italian influence, which did not make itself felt until the early days of the 16th century, led to brilliant results, whilst the workers retained their fresh northern individuality and keen observation of nature. But in the latter half of this century it began to choke these national characteristics, and led to somewhat theatrical and conventional classicism and mannerism. One speciality of the 15th century was the production of an immense number of wooden altars and reredos es, painted and gilt in the most -gorgeous way and covered with subject-reliefs and statues, the former often treated in a very pictorial style! Wooden screens, stalls, tabernacles and other church-httings of the greatest elaboration and clever workmanship were largely produced in Germany at the same time, and on into the 16th century.” ]6rg Syrlin, one of the most able of these sculptors in wood, executed the gorgeous choir-stalls in Ulm cathedral, richly decorated with statuettes and canopied work, between 1469 and 1474; his son and namesake sculptured the elaborate stalls in Blaubeuren church of 1496 and the great pulpit in Ulm cathedral. Another exceptionally important work of this type is the magnificent altar at St Wolfgang in Upper Austria, the Tirolese, Michael Pacher, in 1481. Veit Stoss carved by

of Cracow, who later settled in Nuremberg, a man of bad character, was

altar, the

a most skilful sculptor in wood; he carved the high tabernacle and the stalls of the Frauenkirche at Cracow, between 1472 and 1494. One of his finest works is a large piece of wooden panelling, nearly 6 ft. square, carved in 1495, with central reliefs of the Doom and the Heavenly Host, framed by minute reliefs of scenes from Bible history. It is now in the Nuremberg town-hall. Wohlgemuth (1434-1519), the master of A. Dürer, was not only a painter but also a clever wood-carver, as was also Dürer himself (1471-1528), who executed a tabernacle for the Host with an exquisitely carved relief of Christ in Majesty between the Virgin and St John, which still exists in the chapel of the monastery of Landau. Dürer also produced miniature reliefs cut in boxwood and hone-stone, of which the British Museum (print-room) possesses one of the finest examples. Adam Krafft (c. 1455-1507) was another of this class of sculptors, but he worked also in stone; he produced the great Schreyer monument (1492) for St Sebald's at Nuremberg, -a very skilful though mannered piece of sculpture, with very realistic figures in the costume of the time, carved in a way more suited to wood than stone, and too pictorial in effect. He also made the great tabernacle for the Host, 80 ft. high, covered with statuettes, in Ulm cathedral, and the very spirited “ Stations of the Cross ” on the road to the Nuremberg cemetery.

The Vischer family of Nuremberg for three generations were among the ablest sculptors in bronze during the 15th and 16th centuries. Hermann Vischer the elder worked mostly between 1450 and 1505, following the earlier medieval traditions, but without the originality of his son, Peter Vischer. Next to'Nuremberg, the chief centres of bronze sculpture were Augsburg and Lübeck. Innsbruck possesses one of the finest series of bronze statues of the first half of the 16th century, namely twenty-eight colossal figures round the tomb of the emperor Maximilian, which stands in the centre of the nave, representing a succession of heroes and ancestors of the emperor. The first of the statues which was completed cost 3000 florins, and so Maximilian invited the help of Peter Vischer, whose skill was greater and whose work less expensive than that of the local craftsmen. Most of them, however, were executed by sculptors of whom little is now known. They differ much in style, though all 'are of great technical merit. The finest is an ideal statue of King Arthur of Britain, in plate armour of the 14th or early 15th century, very remarkable for the nobility of the face and pose. That of Theodoric is also a very fine 1 This class of large wooden retable was much imitated in S ain and Scandinavia. The metropolitan cathedral of Roskilde in Igenmark possesses a very large and ma nificent example covered with subject reliefs enriched with gold anti colours. 8'S§ ee Waagen, Kunst und Kdnstlef in Deutschl. (Leipzig, 1843-1 45

conception. Both are wrongly said to be the work of Peter Vischer himself. Of the others, the best, nine in number, are by Master Gilg. The others, which range from stiffness to exaggerated realism, are executed by inferior workers. In the latter part of the 16th century the influence of the later Italian Renaissance becomes very apparent, and many elaborate works in bronze were produced, especially at Augsburg, where Hubert Gerhard cast the fine “ Augustus fountain ” in 1593, and Adrian de Vries made the “ Hercules fountain” in 1599; both were influenced by the style of Giovanni di Bologna, as shown in his magnificent fountain at Bologna. At the beginning of the 16th century sculpture in England was entering upon a period of rapid decadence, and to some extent had lost its native individuality. The finest T11

series of statues of this period are those of life-size Rezaig. high up on the walls of Henry VII/s chapel at West- H1102 in minster and others over the various minor altars. E"g'"d These ninety-five figures, which represent saints and doctors of the church, vary very much in merit: some show German influence, others that of Italy, while a third class are, as it Were, “ archaistic ” imitations of older English sculpture.” In some cases the heads and general pose are graceful, and the drapery dignified, but in the main they are coarse both in design and in workmanship compared with the better plastic art of the 13th and 14th centuries. This decadence of English sculpture caused Henry VII. to invite the Florentine Torrigiano (1472 P-1522) to visit England to model and cast the bronze figures for his own magnificent tomb, which still exist in almost perfect preservation. The recumbent effigies of Henry VII. and hisqueen are fine specimens of Florentine art, well modelled with lifelike portrait heads and of very hue technique in the casting. The altar-tomb on which the effigies lie is of black marble, decorated with large medallion reliefs in gilt bronze, each with a pair of saints-the patrons of Henry and Elizabeth of York-of very graceful design. The altar and its large baldacchino and reredos were the work of Torrigiano, but were destroyed during the 17th century. The reredos had a large relief of the Resurrection of Christ executed in painted terra-cotta, as were also a life-size figure of the dead Christ under the altar-slab and four angels on the top angles of the baldacchino; a number of fragments of these figures have recently been found in the “ pockets” of the nave vaulting, where they had been thrown after the destruction of the reredos. Torrigiano's bronze effigy of Margaret of Richmond in the south aisle of the same chapel is a very skilful but too realistic portrait, apparently taken from a cast of the dead face and hands. Another terra»cotta effigy in the Rolls chapel is also, from internal evidence, attributed to the same able Florentine. Another talented Florentine sculptor, Benedetto da Maiano, was invited to England by Cardinal Wolsey to make his tomb; of this only the marble sarcophagus now exists and has been used to hold the body of Admiral Nelson in St Paul's Cathedral. Another member of the same family, named Giovanni, was the sculptor of the colossal terra-cotta heads of the Caesars affixed to the walls of the older part of Hampton Court Palace. In Spain, in the early part of the 16th century, a strong Italian influence superseded that of France and Germany, partly owing to the presence there of the Florentine Torrigiano Spanish

and other Italian artists. The magnificent tomb of Renais-Ferdinand and Isabella in Granada cathedral is a. hue -"UW specimen of Italian Renaissance sculpture, somewhat s°"'lpt"" similar in general form to the tomb of Sixtus IV. by Ant. Pollaiuolo in St Peter's, but half a century later in the style of its detail. It looks as if it had been executed by Torrigiano, but the design which he made for it is said to have been rejected. The statue of St Jerome, which he executed for the convent of Buenavista, near Seville, was declared by Goya to be superior to Michelangelo's “ Moses.” Some of the work of this period, though purely Italian in style, was produced by Spanish sculptors, 3 There were once no fewer than 107 statues in the interior of this chapel, besides a large number on the exterior; see ]. T. Micklethwaite

in Archaeologia, vol. xlvii. pl. x.-xii.