Veit Stoss

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Stoss, Veit


(also Wit Stosz, Wit Stwosz). Born circa 1455 in Horb, Württemberg; died 1533 in Nuremberg. German sculptor, painter, and engraver; marked the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance in German and Polish sculpture.

From 1477 to 1496, Stoss worked primarily in Kraków. His works executed in Poland include the tombstone of Peter of Bnin (stone, c. 1494) in the cathedral in Wfoctawek and his most important Polish work, the high altar of the Church of St. Mary in Kraków (wood, 1477–89). The altar has a round wooden sculpture in the central portion and relief work, with painted landscape backgrounds, on the side panels. The festive polychromy of the Kraków altar, its wealth of human types, and its dramatic emotional force, which is emphasized by the tense rhythm of the folds of the clothing, place this work by Stoss among the finest examples of European sculpture.

In 1496, Stoss returned to Nuremberg, where he was to remain for virtually the rest of his life. His works from the 1490’s to the 1520’s include the Madonna From Stoss’ House (wood, c. 1499, German National Museum, Nuremberg), the Annunciation (wood, 1517–18, Church of St. Lorenz, Nuremberg), and the altar of the cathedral in Bamberg (wood, 1520–23). These works attest to a deepening of Stoss’ Renaissance tendencies. The faces are softer and smoother; the play of the folds of the clothing and the gestures and poses of the figures reveal more harmoniously the plasticity of the forms. Stoss, moreover, made less use of polychromy in these later works.


Dettloff. S. Wit Stosz, vols. 1–2. Wroclaw, 1961.
Lutze. E. Veit Stoes, 4th ed. Munich, 1968.