Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Saints Christopher, Eustace, and Erasmus (Three Helper Saints)

Artist:
Tilman Riemenschneider (German, 1460–1531)
Date:
ca. 1500–1505
Geography:
Made in Würzburg, Germany
Culture:
German
Medium:
Limewood
Dimensions:
Overall: 21 x 13 x 4 3/4 in. (53.3 x 33 x 12.1 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Wood
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1961
Accession Number:
61.86
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 20
The figures in this relief represent three of the fourteen Helper Saints, venerated as a group since the early 1300s. They became particularly popular in the south of Germany after 1446, when it was believed they appeared in a vision to a shepherd in Upper Franconia. Represented here are Saint Christopher carrying the Christ Child; Saint Eustace, a general in Trajan’s army who converted to Christianity; and Saint Erasmus, a Syrian bishop in episcopal regalia. The figures are carved from a single piece of limewood, with an added piece giving additional depth to Saint Christopher. The overlapping of figures allowed the three or four groups of saints to be joined with no apparent seam and also created a sense of great depth. The meticulous carving and small scale suggest that the original group was an independent relief in a niche or a shrine. Although Saint Christopher looks to the left, the general movement of the figures is to the right, indicating that this piece was originally at the left side of the relief. The finely carved details and the decorative punch work, all of which would have been obscured by a layer of paint, are evidence that the sculpture was never intended to be painted.
Lord Delamere, United Kingdom ; Dr. George Saint (d. 1957), Cheadle, Staffordshire (by 1951) ; Mary Saint, Cheadle, Staffordshire (1957-1960) ; [ Sotheby's, London(sold October 14, 1960)] ; [ Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York (sold 1961)]
"Riemenschneider's Helpers in Need." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 21, no. 10 (June 1963). pp. 317-326, fig. 3, 5-6.

Ostoia, Vera K. The Middle Ages: Treasures from the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969. no. 105, pp. 222-223, 261.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: Dutton Publishing, 1970. no. 173, p. 191.

Deuchler, Florens. "The Cloisters: Ein Museum für mittelalterliche Kunst in New York." Du 32, no. 2 (1972). p. 140.

Nostitz, Charles E. von. "Two Unpolychromed Riemenschneiders at The Cloisters." Metropolitan Museum Journal 10 (1975). pp. 51-61, fig. 1, 5, 10.

Buczynski, Bodo. Tilman Riemenschneider, frühe Werke: Ausstellung im Mainfränkischen Museum Würzburg vom 5. September bis 1. November 1981. Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 1981. no. 38, pp. 214-16, fig. 142.

Bier, Justus. Tilmann Riemenschneider: His Life and Work. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1982. pp. 37-41, 115, pl. 2A-C.

Sello, Gottfried. Tilman Riemenschneider. Munich: Lexikographisches Institut München, 1983. p. 213.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 139, pp. 150-151.

Kalden-Rosenfeld, Iris. Tilman Riemenschneider, Werkstattleiter in Würzburg: Beiträge zur Organisation einer Bildschnitzer- und Steinbildhauerwerkstatt im ausgehenden Mittelalter. Wissenschaftliche Beiträge aus europäischen Hochschulen. Ammersbek: Verlag an der Lottbek, 1990. pp. 97, 110, fig. 36, 313.

Pushkin Museum and State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki: Iz sobraniĭ muze︠i︡a Metropoliten, Nʹ︠i︡u Ĭork i Khudozhestvennogo Instituta, Chikago. Moscow: Pushkin Museum, 1990. no. 72, p. 13.

State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki. St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, 1990. no. 72, pp. 150-151.

Chapuis, Julien, ed. Tilman Riemenschneider: Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1999. no. 23, pp. 253-56.

Wixom, William D. "Riemenschneider in America." In Tilman Riemenschneider: Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages, edited by Julien Chapuis. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1999. p. 156.

Kalden-Rosenfeld, Iris. Tilman Riemenschneider und seine Werkstatt. Blauen Bücher. Königstein im Taunus: Karl Robert Langewiesche, 2001. no. 22, pp. 129-30, fig. 178.

Kalden-Rosenfeld, Iris. Tilman Riemenschneider: The Sculptor and His Workshop. Königstein im Taunus: Karl Robert Langewiesche Nachfolger, 2004. no. 22, pp. 128–29, fig. 178.

Lichte, Claudia, and Iris Kalden-Rosenfeld, ed. Tilman Riemenschneider: Volume 2, Werke seiner Glaubenswelt. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2004. p. 212.

Lichte, Claudia, and Iris Kalden-Rosenfeld, ed. Tilman Riemenschneider: Volume 1, Werke seiner Blütezeit. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2004. no. 68, pp. 338-39, fig. 292.

Smith, Jeffrey Chipps. "A Fragile Legacy: Würzburg's Sculpture after Riemenschneider." In Tilman Riemenschneider, c. 1460-1531. Studies in the History of Art 65. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2004. p. 185.

Ainsworth, Maryan. German Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013. p. 4.



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