Hans Leinbergerc. 1516

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Hans Leinberger, active in Landshut, was crafting his vivid, impassioned works at a time when the veneration of religious images was increasingly incurring the suspicion of idolatry. On the eve of the Reformation, he was making three-dimensional artworks notable for their unprecedented directness. His sculptures aimed to arouse the beholder’s emotions and prompt feelings of empathy. They approached subjects that had been represented in art for centuries from entirely new angles. Besides large altars, such as that for the collegiate church in Moosburg, Leinberger also created a number of small-format reliefs that were probably intended for an elite class of connoisseurs with a humanist education. It is thought that the two Berlin panels, together with the Calvary relief in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, once constituted a small private altar. In all three panels, the figures have a remarkable physical presence, the action is treated in a radical, dramatic manner, and the perspective is boldly handled to lend these smallformat scenes a monumental impact. Antecedents for Leinberger’s impressive pictorial ideas may be found in the woodcuts of Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Altdorfer.

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