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Matthias Grünewald (c.1470 - 1528)

Related: 1400s - 1500s

Related: German art - Northern Renaissance - Saint Anthony - fantastic art

Matthias Grunewald (2001) - Horst Ziermann
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Matthies Grunewald, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Detail from Panel from Isenheim Altarpiece), 1515

Mathias Grünewald belongs to the family of Bosch, Brueghel and Schongauer. His paintings are born of the mystery of the supernatural, and exhibit teeming life and hideous, demonic creations, as we see in these details from The Temptation of Saint Anthony. One of the nine panels Grünewald executed for the altar piece of Issenheim, this painting reprises a favorite subject of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the hermit saint assailed by the entire arsenal of infernal monsters representing every weakness, every ugly human failing. It is a subject rich in implications for the fantastic, staging the drama of the double, the riddle of the hallucinatory or altered state of mind, and, not least, the problems of evil and of guilt. The theme would be revived in the nineteenth century, the golden age of the Fantastic, most notably by Flaubert. It would then tempt, in its turn, numerous book illustrators. --http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/fll/janzalon/grunewald.html [Jun 2004]

Dead Lovers (1528) Matthias Grünewald
image sourced here. [Mar 2005]


Matthias Grünewald (c1470-1528) is one of the greatest figures in German Renaissance art. The visionary character of his work, with its expressive colour and line, is in stark contrast to Albrecht Dürer's.

His real name was Mathis Gothart Niethart. A seventeenth-century writer mistakenly identified him by the name Grünewald, his real name was not discovered till the 1920s. He was born in Würzburg in the 1470s. He served as court painter and engineer to two successive archbishops of Mainz from about 1510 to 1525. He left this post apparently because of Lutheran sympathies. Grünewald died in Halle in 1528.

The greatest of his works is the Isenheim Altarpiece, completed 1515, now in the Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar. It contains his most famous images: the Crucifixion, the Temptation of St Anthony, and the Resurrection.

See also: Early Renaissance painting --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthias_Gr%FCnewald [Jun 2004]

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