1902 Encyclopedia > Sculpture > German Sculpture - 12th Century; Bronze Work.

(Part 16)

German Sculpture - 12th Century; Bronze Work.

Till the 12th century sculpture in Germany continued to be under the lifeless influence of Byzantium, tempered to some extent by an attempt to return to classical models. This is seen in the bronze pillar reliefs and other works produced by Bishop Bernward after his visit to Rome (see METAL-WORK, vol. xvi. p. 77). Hildesheim, Cologne, and the whole of the Rhine provinces were the most active seats of German sculpture, especially in metal, till the 12th century. Many remarkable pieces of bronze sculpture were produced at the end of that period, of which several specimens exist. The bronze font at Liege, with figure-subjects in relief of various baptismal scenes from the New Testament, by Lambert Patras of Dinant, cast about 1112, is a work of most wonderful beauty and perfection for its time ; other fonts in Osnabriick and Hildesheim cathedrals are surrounded by spirited reliefs, fine in conception, but inferior in beauty to those on the Liege font. Fine bronze candelabra exist in the abbey church of Comburg and at Aix-la-Chapelle, the latter of about 1165. Merseburg cathedral has a strange realistic sepulchral figure of Rudolf of Swabia, executed about 1100; and at Magdeburg is a fine effigy, also in bronze, of Bishop Frederick (d. 1152), treated in a more graceful way. The last figure has a peculiarity which is not uncommon in the older bronze reliefs of Germany: the body is treated as a relief, while the head sticks out and is quite detached from the ground in a very awkward way. One of the finest plastic works of this century is the choir screen of Hildesheim cathedral, executed in hard stucco, once rich with gold and colours ; on its lower part is a series of large reliefs of saints modelled with almost classical breadth and nobility, with drapery of especial excellence.

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