Tilmann Riemenschneider is one of the foremost sculptors of religious art in Germany throughout the late 15th and early 20th centuries XVI.
It is known that he was born in 1463 and at only 22 years old he already has a master's degree in the city ofWürzburg. From then on, he will not be short of assignments. Some are as outstanding as theAltarpiece of the Holy Bloodthat he made between 1499 and 1504 for theChurch of St. James in Rothenburg. A work that brings together a large part of its characteristics. Starting because his favorite material was wood, and more specifically lime wood. An ideal wood for its style of elongated figures, with nervous features and that at times are so fine that they even have a brittle appearance. That is to say, these are very expressive figures.
Riemenschneider's Assumption Altarpiece
And that surely reaches its maximum expression in the next commission that he materialized. We refer to theAltarpiece of the Assumptionthat he made for thechurch of Creglingenand in which he spent several years, specifically from 1505 to 1510. Although, Riemenschneider was not dedicated solely to art. He had become a prominent figure in local politics in Wurzburg, and already had a large workshop that could hold up to a dozen apprentices.
But regardless of his social relevance, this is agreat representative of what a master craftsman was. A worker with a prodigious technique and a connoisseur of the entireGerman late-Gothic artistic tradition, the one he decided to follow, without paying too much attention to the novelties of theItalian Renaissance.
In fact the altarpiece art in Germany has a key importance that went beyond such influences, and Riemenschneider supposes a very high point of this type of liturgical objects. His altarpieces are always immense triptychs that can be seen both with the leaves open and closed. Triptychs embedded in the idea of development in height of the German Gothic which is also seen in buildings such as the Cologne Cathedral or Ulm.
That height is achieved thanks to the presence of a bench that supports everything and to the fact that the central body is always very light. Although in this case we see that the sculptor has acquired such mastery, that even the highest part of the altarpiece is a convoluted form and there is no lack of figures carved with perfection, great volume and all detail.
The result is a true marvel of the art of German altarpieces, which in importance is only comparable to the tradition of altarpieces in Spain, where there are also wooden ones, yes they are more common in marble or in a material as delicate as alabaster. In fact, more or less during the same years that the German sculptor was carving this jewel, which is also still preserved in the same location for which it was conceived,in Spain, in the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, the artist Damián Forment. was carving another wonderful altarpiece in alabaster