Tilman Riemenschneider

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Riemenschneider, Tilman


Born circa 1460 in Heiligenstadt, Thuringia; died July 7, 1531, in Würzburg. German Renaissance sculptor.

From 1483, Riemenschneider worked in Würzburg. Because of his ties with insurgent Franconian peasants, he was cast into prison in 1525 and tortured. Late Gothic dynamic form and jagged line characterize Riemenschneider’s early works, such as his statues of Adam and Eve (1491–93, stone, Main-Franconia Museum, Würzburg), the tomb of Rudolf von Scherenberg (1496–99, stone, Cathedral of St. Killian, Würzburg), and the Altar of the Holy Blood (1501–04, wood, Church of St. Jakob, Rothenburg).

Riemenschneider was among the first sculptors to abandon the practice of painting and gilding statues. Through his virtuoso treatment of texture he endowed his distinctly individualized sculptures with intense spirituality. He was particularly concerned with a lifelike rendering of gesture and facial expression.

Riemenschneider’s later works demonstrate the artist’s aspiration toward greater generalization and clarity of images and toward harmoniously balanced composition. Such works include the Altar of the Virgin (1505–10, wood, Church of the Lord, Creglingen), the tomb of Lorenz von Bibra (c. 1519, stone, Cathedral of St. Killian, Würzburg), and the relief The Mourning of Christ on the altar of the parish church in Maidbronn (1519–23, limestone).


Flesche, H. Tilman Riesenschneider (album). Dresden, 1957.
Gerstenberg, K. Tilman Riesenschneider [5th ed.]. Munich [1962].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.