The German CVMA has just published a ravishing new volume (X, 2 in its series), Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Nürnberg, Sebalder Stadtseite (‘The Medieval Stained Glass of Nuremberg, St Sebald Side’). The historic city of Nuremberg is extremely rich in stained glass, and for the purposes of this study the survey has been divided into two sections identified by their principal churches – the churches of St Sebald (named after Sebaldus, an eighth-century hermit and missionary, later patron saint of Nuremberg) and St Lawrence. Work has been undertaken on both volumes simultaneously, but this is the first of the two to appear; the second volume will appear in 2016.
In addition to cataloguing the extraordinary windows of St Sebald and the Frauenkirche (church of Our Lady), the volume also covers the extant and lost glass of the city’s former Augustinian, Benedictine and Dominican monasteries, as well as of the Holy Ghost Hospital, the Holy Trinity Chapel (founded by a rich merchant, Matthias Landau), and some secular buildings – a total of 600 panels associated with 9 locations. Although the losses include a complete fourteenth-century scheme at the Dominican church, which lasted until the eighteenth century, important survivals still exist. Arguably the most important of these are panels from the Benedictine monastic church of St Egidien, where the Nuremberg artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) designed scenes for a forty-panel cycle of the life of St Benedict (installed in the cloister in 1501) and a smaller scheme of fifteen panels (installed in the monastic refectory around the same time) [Figs 1–2].
The glazing described in this book is of paramount importance for the history of stained glass in the late Middle Ages. Nuremberg, a free and imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, was home to an unparalleled number of stained glass artists whose work is found not just in the Nuremberg’s sacred buildings, but also across Franconia and as far as Thuringia, Swabia and Old Bavaria.
A Highlight: the Church of St Sebald
The first glazing campaign of the choir at St Sebald’s was finished by 1380 and showed Christological narratives, Genesis scenes, typological themes, and images of saints. Parts of these windows can still be seen, and one of the many achievements of this book is that it documents the eastern glazing of the choir of the church for the first time. Towards the end of the fifteenth century, it seems that some of this glass was in poor condition. As a result, four of the principal windows of the east choir were removed by the descendants of the original donors, and new glass inserted. The donors were the Bishop of Bamberg; the emperor, Maximilian I (of Habsburg); and two wealthy nobles, the Margrave of Brandenberg-Ansbach, and Melchior Pfinzing, a prominent Nuremberg patrician, who was also the provost of St Sebald’s and an advisor to Emperor Maximilian. The new windows were almost certainly designed by the Albrecht Dürer and one of his pupils, Hans von Kulmbach (c.1480–1528), and painted by the Veit Hirsvogel family workshop between 1501 and 1515. They show standing figures of saints and large-scale portrait images of the donors. Unlike the scheme they replaced, there were no narrative sequences in the new windows. The paintings are of the highest quality. The so-called Pfinzing Window includes an exquisite painting of the Virgin and Child based on a Dürer cartoon, the upper part of which is now in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia, while others, such as the painting of the church’s benefactor, the Emperor, Henry II, have enormous authority and power [Fig. 4].
Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Nürnberg, Sebalder Stadtseite, by Hartmut Scholz, German language only, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi Deutschland, Band X, 2, Reimer publishing, 2013, 712 pp., plus numerous illustrations, many in colour.
ISBN: 978-3-87157-236-4: 118 euros, 148 Swiss francs