Late medieval limewood sculptors in SouthGermany, of whom Tilman Riemenschneider was one of the most gifted, adopted the practice of allowing the sculptures of large altarpieces to go unpainted. They chose instead to stain a few details in black, such as the eyes in this figure, and to finish the surface with a clear glaze. The lack of attributes makes the identification of this bishop uncertain, but his seated position may indicate that he represents one of the four Church Fathers, either Saint Augustine or Saint Ambrose, the only two with the rank of bishop. The scale and the positioning of the head indicate that the figure occupied the left side of a central shrine of a small altarpiece possibly dedicated to these early leaders of the Church. Although it is actually a high relief, this sculpture conveys a striking sense of volume through a rich play of interconnecting curves. The sensitive and descriptive rendering of the elderly face achieves both psychological depth and spiritual weight.
Count Hans Wilczek, Burg Kreuzenstein, Austria ; [ Ruth and Leopold Blumka, New York (sold 1970)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art) no. 1965/1975 (1975). p. 151.
Nostitz, Charles E. von. "Two Unpolychromed Riemenschneiders at The Cloisters." Metropolitan Museum Journal 10 (1975). pp. 51-61, fig. 2, 4, 9.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. no. 35, pp. 374-75.
Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at The Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 46, no. 3 (Winter 1988-1989). p. 28.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 35, pp. 409-10.
Kalden-Rosenfeld, Iris. Tilman Riemenschneider: The Sculptor and His Workshop. Königstein im Taunus: Karl Robert Langewiesche Nachfolger, 2004. no. 21, pp. 3, 128–29, fig. 3, 177.
Marincola, Michele. "Riemenschneider's Use of the Decorative Punch in Unpolychromed Sculpture." In Tilman Riemenschneider, c. 1460-1531. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2004. p. 134.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 103, pp. 141–42, 198.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 148-149.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. p. 215.