From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Michael Pacher (c. 1435—August 1498) was an Austrian Tyrolean painter and sculptor active during the last quarter of the 15th century. His best-known work is the panel painting The Devil Presenting St Augustine With The Book Of Vices.
Michael Pacher (born c. 1435 - died August 1498, Salzburg?, Archbishopric of Salzburg) was an Austro-German Gothic painter and wood carver.
Pacher was one of the earliest artists to introduce the principles of Renaissance painting into Germany. He was a comprehensive artist with a broad range of skills: sculpting, painting, and architecture of complex wood and stone. He painted structures for altarpieces on a scale unparalleled in North European art. His work is frequently correlated with the work of Andrea Mantegna.
Pacher's masterpiece, The Altarpiece of St. Wolfgang (1471-1481), is considered one of the leading and most remarkable carved and painted altar shrines in all of European art. Pacher’s fusion of Italian Renaissance and Northern Gothic realism helped him to produce a uniquely personal style of painting.
Pacher’s exact date of birth is not certain. What is known is that he was born in the year of 1435 near Brixen (Bressanone) on the southern slopes of the Tyrolian Alps in the territory of the Alto Adige of modern Italy.
The exact date of his birth is of comparative significance; there are credentials which confirm his attendance and actions at several periods of time and in specified regions. The regions where he lived, Val Pusteria and Alto Adige, are also of importance because they make Pacher a frontier artist.
Little is known of his training. The earliest recorded work that of Pacher was an altarpiece that was dated of 1465 and authorized with his signature, but which is now lost.
Pacher visited Padua in northern Italy, where he became heavily influenced by the modern fresco work of Andrea Mantegna. Mantegna was considered the renowned master of perspective, whose stunning, low-set standpoint spatial compositions were important to the development of Pacher’s own style. Unlike most German artists of the late 15th century, Pacher’s inclination towards Italian influence set him apart from the rest of his counterparts.
Pacher is documented in 1467 as a distinguished artist/sculptor in Bruneck (the present Brunico today), some twenty-five miles east of Brixen in Pustertal (Val di Pusteria today), south Tirol, where he had a workshop for making altarpieces.
His incredible skill of wood carving and painting provided him with employment for German style altars. They usually consisted of carved figural centerpieces, carved Gothic summits on top, a platform where the altar stands below, and painted scenes on panel wings.
Pacher spent much of his time during the 1470’s in Neustift, where his work mainly consisted of painting frescoes. In 1484 he was commissioned to Salzburg by the Franciscan Order, to create an altarpiece, only portions of which are still conserved.
Much of Pacher's works have been destroyed or badly damaged, some of them during the hostilities in the late 1600's, others in 1709. His most important surviving works are the St. Wolfgang Altarpiece and the Altarpiece of the Church Fathers.
Altarpiece of St. Wolfgang
Altarpiece of the Church Father
Michael Pacher died in the year of 1498. The location is not certain, but he died presumably in Salzburg, which is along the border of Germany and Austria.