Veit Stoss

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Veit Stoss (also: Veit Stoß; Polish: Wit Stwosz; before 1450 - about 20 September 1533) was a leading German sculptor, mostly in wood, whose career covered the transition between the late Gothic and the Northern Renaissance. His style emphasized pathos and emotion, helped by his virtuoso carving of billowing drapery; it has been called "late Gothic Baroque".[1] He had a large workshop and in addition to his own works there are a number by pupils.



Stoss was born at Horb am Neckar before 1450; his exact date of birth is unknown though it may have been in 1447. Nothing is known certainly of his life before 1473 when he moved to Nuremberg in Franconia and married Barbara Hertz. Their eldest son Andreas was born there before 1477, when Stoss moved to Krakow, the royal capital of Poland, where he was commissioned him to produce the enormous polychrome wooden Altar of Veit Stoss at St Mary's Church in Krakow. This was not completed until 1489, and was the largest triptych of its time and, like his other large works, required a large workshop including specialized painters and gilders.[2] Other important works from his period in Poland were the tomb of Casimir IV in Wawel Cathedral, the marble tomb of Zbigniew Olesnicki in Gniezno, and the altar of Saint Stanislaus. The Polish court was more aware of Italian styles than Nuremberg patrons of that period, and some of his Polish work uses Renaissance classical ornament.

In 1496, he returned to Nuremberg with his wife and eight children. He reacquired his citizenship for three gulden and resumed his work there as a sculptor. Between 1500 and 1503 he carved an altar, now lost, for the parish church of Schwaz, Tyrol of the "Assumption of Mary". In 1503, he was arrested for forging the seal and signature of a fraudulent contractor and was sentenced to be branded on both of his cheeks and prohibited from leaving Nuremberg without the explicit permission of the city council.

Despite the prohibition he went to Münnerstadt in 1504, to paint and gild the altarpiece that Tilman Riemenschneider had left in plain wood ten years earlier, presumably according to his contract (unlike Stoss, his workshop did not include painters and guilders). Leaving wood sculpture unpainted was a new taste at the time, and "perhaps the tastes of the city council were somewhat provincial."[3] He also created the altar for Bamberg Cathedral and various other sculptures in Nuremberg, including the Annunciation and Tobias and the Angel. In 1506 he was arrested a second time. Emperor Maximilian wrote a letter of pardon, but it was rejected by the council of the Imperial free city Nuremberg as meddling in its internal affairs. He was able to resettle in Nuremberg from 1506, but was shunned by the council and received few large commissions from that time onwards.[4] In 1512, the Emperor asked Stoss to help with the planning of his tomb monument, which was eventually placed in the Hofkirche, Innsbruck; it seems Stoss's attempts to cast in brass were unsuccessful.

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