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Carved Altarpieces - Masterpieces of the Late Gothic
By Rainer Kahsnitz
Photographs by Achim Bunz
With over 400 illustrations, 382 in colour.
Carved, winged altarpieces from the Late Gothic period are the most ambitious and magnificent works of art to have survived from the Middle Ages.
Those that survived the Reformation and destruction in later centuries document the amazing skills of the team of sculptors, painters and joiners who collaborated in their production. From devout stagings of miracles to sober images of saints to ostentatious displays of worldly fashions, readers are presented with a stunning series of details – riotous locks of hair, swirling fabric and thickets of twisted vines.
This sumptuously illustrated survey features twenty-two of the most outstanding carved altarpieces from churches in southern Germany, Austria, South Tirol, the Czech Republic and Kraków. An extensive introduction provides the background to an understanding of the origin and evolution of altarpieces and maps the distribution of those that have survived.
Each chapter focuses on one altarpiece, presenting historical documentation, analysing the work’s architecture and pictorial programme, and placing the sculptures and paintings in their context. In addition to questions of style and attribution, the author also discusses the changes in religious thinking and iconography that must be considered to fully to appreciate the work.
In the beautiful colour photographs, specially commissioned for this project, each altarpiece is illustrated in its entirety, with its wings both opened and closed, and in close-up views of its most important carvings and paintings – details that are not available to the average visitor to these sites.
is Director of the German Association of Art History in Berlin. He is the author of numerous publications on medieval sculpture, manuscript illumination, gold work and painting. Achim Bunz’s photographs have been frequently published in leading European newspapers and magazines as well as in numerous art and travel books both in Europe and the USA.
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