Isenheim Altarpiece  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
The Temptation of St. Anthony (detail) from the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald
Enlarge
The Temptation of St. Anthony (detail) from the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece painted by the German artist Matthias Grünewald between 1512 and 1516. It is on display at the Unterlinden Museum at Colmar, Alsace, now in France.

By far his greatest, as well as his largest work, it was painted for the Monastery of St. Anthony in Isenheim near Colmar (then in Germany), which specialized in hospital work. The Antonine monks of the monastery were noted for their treatment of sufferers of skin disease, such as ergotism, symptoms of which are displayed by figures including the crucified Christ in the altarpiece.

Composition

The altarpiece has two sets of wings, displaying three configurations. The first view shows a Crucifixion scene, flanked by images of Saint Anthony and Saint Sebastian. There is a predella with an Entombment of Christ, which remains in the second view also. When the outermost wings are opened, the second view shows scenes of the Annunciation, the original subject of Mary bathing Jesus to the accompaniment of an Angelic choir (or various other titles), and the Resurrection. The innermost view shows the Temptation of Saint Anthony and the Meeting of Saint Anthony and the Hermit Paul to the sides, and a pre-existing carved gilt-wood altarpiece by Nicolas Hagenau of about 1490. Now the altarpiece has been dis-assembled (and sawn through) so that all the views can be seen separately, except that the original sculpted altarpiece is no longer flanked by the panels of the third view, which are instead shown together. Carved wood elements at the top and bottom of the composition were lost in the French Revolution, when the whole painting was nearly destroyed.

Iconography

The iconography of the altarpiece has several unusual elements, several dervived from closely following the acoounts left by Saint Bridget of Sweden of her mystical visions. These had long had a significant influence on art, especially on depictions of the Nativity of Christ, a scene not included here. The crucifixion includes Saint John the Baptist, long dead by Gospel chronology.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Isenheim Altarpiece" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools