Skip to main content
Select Source:

Tilman Riemenschneider

Tilman Riemenschneider

Tilman Riemenschneider (1468-1531) was the most famous of all German late-Gothic sculptors. His style of carving is beautifully refined, with nervous, crackling drapery folds and superb surface finish of the alabaster, sandstone, or lindenwood with which he worked.

Tilman Riemenschneider was born in Osterode, Saxony. After traveling in the Rhineland and Swabia, he settled in the prince-bishopric of Würzburg in 1483. He became a citizen 2 years later and was mayor of the city in 1520-1521. As a Würzburg councilor, in 1525 he came into conflict with the Church authorities during the Peasants' War—an expression of the Reformation—and was imprisoned and tortured. He died in Würzburg on July 7, 1531.

Like his contemporaries at Nuremberg, notably Veit Stoss, Riemenschneider combined realism with picturesqueness. The figure groups on his altarpieces are crowded and expressively posed, and the folds of their garments are deep-cut and crisp. He developed a highly individual style characterized by a high-pitched sensibility and an intense seriousness. His figures are carefully posed and often seem to affect ungainly attitudes; their expressions are somewhat more restrained than the figures by Stoss.

Riemenschneider's chief early works are the wooden altarpiece of the parish church of Münnerstadt (1490-1492; portions are in Berlin and Munich, the rest are in situ); the stone figures of Adam and Eve carved for the portal of the Marienkapelle in Würzburg (1491-1493), which are among the earliest known realistically treated nude figure sculptures in Germany; and a sandstone Virgin for the Marienkapelle (all three in the Mainfränkisches Museum, Würzburg), of which many variations, generally in wood, made Riemenschneider the most famous sculptor of his day.

Between 1500 and 1520 Riemenschneider carved the superb Assumption of the Virgin wooden altarpiece for the little country church at Creglingen, the stone tomb of Bishop Rudolph von Scherenberg in the Cathedral of Würzburg, and the wooden Altar of the Holy Blood in the Jakobskirche in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1501-1505). In the center of the Rothenburg altar is the Last Supper; on the wings are the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and Christ in Gethsemane, brilliantly executed in low relief. Sensing the beauty of the wood itself, Riemenschneider frequently did not polychrome his altarpieces, a novelty at this time.

Riemenschneider's masterpiece of funerary sculpture is the monumental memorial of the emperor Henry II and his wife, Kunigunde, in Bamberg Cathedral (1499-1513), executed in marble. Relief carvings on the sides of the tomb depict legendary events from their lives in a style that reveals a new human understanding.

Further Reading

There is no monograph on Riemenschneider in English. Bernd Lohse and others, eds., Art Treasures of Germany (1958), contains some biographical information on Riemenschneider and reproductions of his works. See also Clara Waters, Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Their Works (1899).

Additional Sources

Bier, Justus, Tilmann Riemenschneider, his life and work, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1982. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tilman Riemenschneider." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tilman Riemenschneider." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tilman-riemenschneider

"Tilman Riemenschneider." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tilman-riemenschneider

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Riemenschneider, Tilman

Tilman Riemenschneider (tĬl´män rē´mənshnī´dər), c.1460–1531, German Renaissance sculptor, who worked in stone and wood. He was in Würzburg by 1483. In 1520 he was made burgomaster, but he was imprisoned in 1525 because of participation in the peasant insurrection, and little is known about his work in later years. He created slender figures with delicately carved, expressive faces, all arranged in clearly ordered, though not static, compositions. His stone tombs of Bishop Rudolf von Scherenberg in the cathedral at Würzburg and of Emperor Henry II and his wife in the cathedral at Bamberg are well known, as are his stone Adam and Eve (Würzburg Mus.) and his wooden altar in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Examples of his work are in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and in the Metropolitan and Cleveland museums.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Riemenschneider, Tilman." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Riemenschneider, Tilman." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/riemenschneider-tilman

"Riemenschneider, Tilman." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/riemenschneider-tilman

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.