Friday, August 26, 2016

The Germanisches Nationalmuseum

I've already posted works by Veit Stoss and Adam Kraft from the Germanishes Nationalmuseum in previous posts.  I'll show a few more things from the museum in this one.

The museum is a legacy of the early 19th century campaign for German unification and the rediscovery of German nationalism.  It was founded in 1852 as a museum of German history and culture.  The museum contains objects from Prehistory to the present.  The museum took over the remains of a long abandoned Carthusian charterhouse, closed when the city voted to become Protestant in 1525.  Over the last 50 years, the museum expanded, but the old charterhouse remains the heart of the institution.

Unless otherwise noted, all of these photos are mine and are freely available, especially to educators.

Part of the museum's collection of decorative arts housed in what I think was the refectory.

A dragon chandelier from the Rathaus attributed to Veit Stoss

Schüsselfelder Schiff, around 1503, gilded silver

This 16th century table ornament made for a very wealthy Nuremberg merchant is a little bit in the Last-Supper-carved-on-a-peach-pit aesthetic, but it really is amazing with a full crew and riggings,

An Ottonian Gospel book from the 10th century.

The original frame for the Landauer Altarpiece; Dürer's painting that originally occupied it is now in Vienna.
The carved Last Judgement once completed the program for the altarpiece, intended for a chapel in the Twelve Brother's House, a home for no more than 12 destitute old men of good reputation founded by the patron of this project, Matthäus Landauer.  Landauer himself ended his days in the House.

A very curious painting by Dürer, the Sixth Labor of Hercules; Hercules slays the Stymphalian birds.  In its subject and style, Dürer paints an essay in Italian classicism.  Dürer painted this in tempera on canvas, a legacy of his days spent in Venice where oil painting on canvas was invented.  This is his only mythological painting, commissioned by Frederick the Wise for his castle in Wittenberg.

A detail of Hercules in a very German looking landscape.

The Stymphalian birds; Dürer, or some consulting scholar, referred to Pausanias' account of the Stymphalian birds as ferocious man-eating monsters.  Earlier versions of the story describe them as a huge flock of birds on a lake who just wouldn't leave.

A major painting by Albecht Altdorfer from a 7 panel series on the life of Saint Florian, now scattered across Europe.  Here, Saint Florian's body is recovered from the river Ems in what is now Austria after he was executed by having millstone hung around his neck and thrown in the river.  Florian is a martyr saint still venerated in Austria and Bavaria.

Altdorfer traveled to the mountains of southern Austria and returned a landscape painter, probably the first in the modern sense.  Landscape and color always play a dramatic role in his work; in this case, a strikingly blood red sunset against a deepening blue sky shines over the Ems river as Saint Florian's body is recovered by passersby.  Altdorfer almost always paints uninhabited mountain wilderness with wild vegetation; very unusual for a European landscapist of any era.

An Annunciation by the Swiss painter Konrad Witz from the 15th century with a setting that demonstrates where German Expressionist film directors might have got their ideas for those wild perspectives.

I can't decide which is stranger, the shooting perspective of the ceiling or the tipped-up perspective of the floor.  The lighting and the placement of the shadows is also very odd.  I wonder if F.W. Murnau knew this painting.  Those three beams in the ceiling recede so fast to the window that they could be fighter jets flying in formation.

The beams, the nails, and the door handle with its very odd shadow in Witz's Annunciation.

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