The Isenheim Altarpiece

The Isenheim Altarpiece

UPDATE: Why does it look like everyone is on their phone? The museum provides audio guides with information about the artists and the works on display.

The Isenheim Altarpiece is Matthias Grünewald's most famous work. Unfortunately, until fairly recently, most of his paintings were attributed to the more famous german renaissance painter, Albrecht Dürer. Not much is known about Grünwald and, worse still, Grünwald most likely isn't even his real name. We don't really know what it was - possibly Mathis Gothard Nithart or Grün. Hopefully he got a little more respect when he was still alive.

All of that aside, the Altarpiece is magnificent. What you see here is not the complete work, it's only the first view and part of the predella. Originally, when you opened the wooden panels you saw the second view and inside of that was a third set of paintings. However, the reign of terror and religious purges after the french revolution forced the Altar to be disassembled and hidden for safekeeping. The paintings survived intact but most of the original structure and sculpted pieces were lost. As it is now, all ten of the paintings are viewable in the Unterlinden Museum, but it's impossible to get them all into one photograph.

Of course, with the giant image of an absolutely tormented Jesus on the cross, the first view is easily the most dramatic. It was very unusual to portray Christ so visibly abused and mangled and Grünewald has given the son of god an all too human weight which is actually bending down the arms of the cross. His was a brutal death and there is nothing in this painting that tries to make you think otherwise.

At the bottom, on the predella, Christ's dead flesh is green and actually has open sores. Sores that didn't come from the nails that held him to the cross. It seems a little harsh until you find out that the Altarpiece was originally created for a monastery in which the monks cared for people afflicted with ergotism or, as it was called back then, Saint Anthony's Fire.

Death was not a pretty, peaceful thing in those days and the Altar reflected that. Even if the death it depicted was Christ's.

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Camera: N/A
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Focal Length: N/A
35mm Focal Length:
Exposure: 1/40 sec
Aperture: f 3.5
ISO: 800
Views: 10670
Taken: 2009-05-17 04:33:00
Posted: 2011-04-28 | 13:55





The Isenheim Altarpiece

The Isenheim Altarpiece

UPDATE: Why does it look like everyone is on their phone? The museum provides audio guides with information about the artists and the works on display.

The Isenheim Altarpiece is Matthias Grünewald's most famous work. Unfortunately, until fairly recently, most of his paintings were attributed to the more famous german renaissance painter, Albrecht Dürer. Not much is known about Grünwald and, worse still, Grünwald most likely isn't even his real name. We don't really know what it was - possibly Mathis Gothard Nithart or Grün. Hopefully he got a little more respect when he was still alive.

All of that aside, the Altarpiece is magnificent. What you see here is not the complete work, it's only the first view and part of the predella. Originally, when you opened the wooden panels you saw the second view and inside of that was a third set of paintings. However, the reign of terror and religious purges after the french revolution forced the Altar to be disassembled and hidden for safekeeping. The paintings survived intact but most of the original structure and sculpted pieces were lost. As it is now, all ten of the paintings are viewable in the Unterlinden Museum, but it's impossible to get them all into one photograph.

Of course, with the giant image of an absolutely tormented Jesus on the cross, the first view is easily the most dramatic. It was very unusual to portray Christ so visibly abused and mangled and Grünewald has given the son of god an all too human weight which is actually bending down the arms of the cross. His was a brutal death and there is nothing in this painting that tries to make you think otherwise.

At the bottom, on the predella, Christ's dead flesh is green and actually has open sores. Sores that didn't come from the nails that held him to the cross. It seems a little harsh until you find out that the Altarpiece was originally created for a monastery in which the monks cared for people afflicted with ergotism or, as it was called back then, Saint Anthony's Fire.

Death was not a pretty, peaceful thing in those days and the Altar reflected that. Even if the death it depicted was Christ's.

show this photo on a map ✈

Tags & Categories


EXIF

Camera: N/A
Lens Type:
Focal Length: N/A
35mm Focal Length:
Exposure: 1/40 sec
Aperture: f 3.5
ISO: 800
Views: 10670
Taken: 2009-05-17 04:33:00
Posted: 2011-04-28 | 13:55