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Veit Stoss

Sculptor, b. at Nuremberg in 1438; d there in 1533

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Stoss, VEIT, sculptor, b. at Nuremberg in 1438; d there in 1533. In 1477 he established a large workshop at Cracow, Poland, but in 1496 he returned to Nuremberg. With Adam Kraft and Peter Vischer, he is considered the most important representative of the late Gothic sculpture in Germany. A quick, skillful workman, of great technical ability, in his youth he carried naturalism to the extreme, while often there was a lack of spirituality. Perhaps this may be traced to a trait of his own character as in the documents of the same era he is spoken of as a “restless, unquiet citizen”. A certain lack of repose is evident, especially in his treatment of the drapery, while in his entire handling of the figure he is very independent of the Gothic style and carries out his designs in his own manner throughout. His later works, however, show an undoubted depth of feeling. Moreover, the question as to the number of his productions is not yet satisfactorily settled; the latest investigation regards him as the creator of most of the works of the celebrated Vischer, whom it represents as merely the bronze-founder who carried out Stoss’s designs. His earliest work (1477) is the celebrated altar of the Blessed Virgin in the Church of Our Lady at Cracow, which is made in three parts, as an altar with wings. In the center is seen the almost life-size figure of the Mother of God as she sinks dying into the arms of an Apostle. Another altar of his in this church has reliefs depicting six scenes in the life of St. Stanislaus. The fine qualities of this work, especially the animation of the portrayal and the effective composition, obtained for him in 1492 the commission of making the tomb of King Casimir IV in the Cathedral of Cracow. Probably, however, he only prepared the design of the marble sarcophagus; the king is represented in his coronation robes, while statuettes showing the people as mourners are placed on the sides. For unknown reasons Stoss returned to Nuremberg, where he accomplished a large amount of work; however, only a few of the works attributed to him are authentic, as in former times nearly every important piece of carving in southern Germany was ascribed to him. Perhaps his best work is the “Salutation of the Angel” in the Church of St. Laurence at Nuremberg (1518): the archangel, a finely conceived figure, and Mary, are surrounded by a huge wreath of roses in which are inwoven the Seven Joys of Mary; the figure of the Blessed Virgin is however somewhat commonplace. Other excellent but less celebrated productions are the memorial tablet of Konrad Imhoff, now in the national museum at Munich, and the reliefs of the Carrying of the Cross and the Burial of Christ in the Church of Our Lady at Nuremberg. Of the altars which he carved, mention should be made of those at Schwabach, Bamberg, and of that in the Church of St. Aegidius at Nuremberg.


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