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Founder figures in the Naumburg Cathedral, Uta von Naumburg

Naumburg Masterbetween 1245 and 1250

State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt
Magdeburg, Germany

The most famous founder figure achieved world fame as “Uta von Naumburg”. She is one of those donor personalities whose biography we know the least about. She lived at the turn of the 10th to 11th century, was the daughter of a count from the Harz region and was married to Ekkehard II. The year of her death is just as unknown as other details of her life. Her fame is due solely to her figurative appearance and goes hand in hand with the rediscovery and idealisation of medieval architectural and artistic monuments in the 19th century.
As a “German icon”, Uta became the ideal figure of the medieval woman and finally of the German woman par excellence. The new medium of photography led through countless illustrated books and postcards to an unexpected popularity of Uta, which found its way into schoolbooks and girls' rooms. In the middle of the 20th century, Uta became one of the most popular German names for girls. The climax of this development took place during the National Socialist era, when Uta was deliberately instrumentalized by those in power. In response, Walt Disney used the image of Uta as a model for the evil stepmother in his famous 1937 fairytale film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The cult of Uta von Naumburg remained unbroken. One of her greatest admirers of the recent past was the writer Umberto Eco. In his “History of Beauty” he gave Uta priority over all other female figures in European art history.

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