Grünewald, Matthias (Mathis Gothart Nithart)

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A great German religious painter whose works are marked by deep emotional content; b. Würzburg, 145580; d. Halle, August 1528. Grünewald spent most of his life in the upper Rhine area and received commissions mainly from the archbishop of Mainz, the Dominicans in Frankfurt, the Antonites at Isenheim, and the cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg. At the time of his death, he was siding secretly with the Reformation.

The "Portrait of a Young Artist" (c. 1495; Art Institute, Chicago), considered by some as an early work of Grünewald, shows affinities with the style of Master WB. With the "Mocking of Christ" (c. 1504; Pinakothek, Munich) and his various Crucifixions, Grünewald manifests the intensity of his own style. Fascinated by the subject of the Crucifixion and inspired by the Revelations of St. bridget of sweden, Grünewald created masterpieces that document the spirit of his time. His greatest work, the Isenheim Altarpiece, a polyptych, was commissioned by Guido Guersi, preceptor of the Antonites at Isenheim (151217; Unterlindenmuseum, Colmar). It consists of nine painted panels showing the Annunciation, Nativity, Crucifixion, Lamentation, and Resurrection, and scenes from the life of St. Anthony. The Crucifixion is a unique and deeply moving creation that combines horror and mystical elevation. The Resurrection, with its etherealized Christ, probably expresses the concepts of the spiritualists. His other masterpiece is the "Meeting of St. Erasmus and St. Maurice" (Pinakothek, Munich). Grünewald's works have provided 20th-century expressionism with a source of inspiration.

Bibliography: h. a. schmid, Mathias Grünewald, Gemälde und Zeichnungen (Strasbourg 190711). h. naumann, Das Grünewaldproblem (Jena 1930). g. schoenberger, The Drawings of Mathis Gothart Nithart, Called Gruenewald (New York 1948). n. pevsner and m. meier, Grünewald (New York 1958). a. weixlgÄrtner, Matthias Grünewald (Vienna 1962). k. sitzmann and e. battisti, Encyclopedia of World Art (New York 1959) 7:182191, extensive bibliog.

[g. galavaris]