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Alexander Nagel

[Fr. postautel, retable; Ger. Altar, Altaraufsatz, Altarbild, Altarretabel, Altarrückwand, Retabel; It. ancona, dossale, pala (d’altare); Sp. retablo]

An image-bearing structure set on the rear part of the altar (see Altar, §II), abutting the back of the altarblock, or set behind the altar in such a way as to be visually joined with the altar when viewed from a distance. It is also sometimes called a retable, following the medieval term retrotabulum [retabulum, retrotabularium].

The altarpiece was never officially prescribed by the Church, but it did perform a prescribed function alternatively carried out by a simple inscription on the altarblock: to declare to which saint or mystery the altar was dedicated. In fact, the altarpiece did more than merely identify the altar; its form and content evoked the mystery or personage whose cult was celebrated at the altar. This original and lasting function influenced the many forms taken by the altarpiece throughout its history. Since the altarpiece was not prescribed by the Church, its form varied enormously. For this reason, it is often impossible, and historically inaccurate, to draw neat distinctions between the altarpiece and other elements occasionally associated with the altar apparatus. For example, movable statues, often of the Virgin and Child, were occasionally placed on altars according to ritual needs, and at those times fulfilled the function of the altarpiece....


British, 19th century, male.

Born 18 June 1828, in London; died 4 December 1905.

Sculptor, engraver, metal worker, draughtsman. Religious subjects, allegorical subjects, figures. Busts.

Henry Armstead studied at the Royal Academy in London and became a member of the Academy in 1875. He exhibited a large number of busts and reliefs ...


Italian, 16th century, male.

Born 1530, in Perugia; died 1576, in Perugia.

Painter, sculptor (bronze/marble/cast iron/clay), draughtsman, goldsmith, architect. Religious subjects, historical subjects, mythological subjects. Groups, statues, low reliefs.

Vincenzo Danti was the brother of Girolamo and Egnazio Danti. He worked initially in the goldsmiths' trade, in whose guild he enrolled in ...


Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1886, in Faenza; died 1973, in Rome.

Painter, sculptor (bronze/marble), potter, draughtsman, engraver, medallist. Religious subjects, mythological subjects, figures, portraits, nudes, sporting subjects, landscapes, still-lifes, birds. Busts, groups, low reliefs, monuments.

Drei studied drawing and sculpture with A. Berti and gained a diploma from the Scuola d'Arti e Mestieri in Faenza in ...


Italian, 19th century, male.

Born 1816, in Viterbo (Lazio); died 1 June 1892, in Florence.

Sculptor, engraver. Religious subjects.

Pio Fedi started out as an apprentice goldsmith in Florence, then became a copper engraver in Vienna. He returned to Florence and entered the academy, where he studied sculpture. He made his debut in Rome and produced several works that established his reputation, notably ...


German, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 13 July 1873, in Neuhaus; died 1948, in Dresden.

Sculptor, medallist. Religious subjects, figures, animals. Funerary monuments, designs (porcelain).

Art Deco.

Max Hermann Fritz was a student of Lorenz Hutschenreuther, and was active in Dresden from 1898. He carried out numerous sculptures for Hartau Church (including a ...


Austrian, 20th century, male.

Born 18 October 1881, in Vienna; died 1955 or 1956.

Sculptor. Religious subjects, portraits. Monuments, medals.

Anton Grath attended the arts and crafts school and the art academy in Vienna. He was active in Berlin, Zurich, Moscow and Olmütz (now Olomouc, Czech Republic). His religious subjects include ...


German, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 27 October 1872, in Pforzheim; died 8 June 1943, in Jugenheim.

Sculptor (bronze), draughtsman, painter, engraver (wood), graphic designer. Religious subjects, portraits. Medals.

Darmstadt Artists' Colony.

Daniel Greiner had been a pastor, bur he decided, after a conflict with the authorities in his parish of Schotten, to turn to art instead. He trained in Paris, then at the Bildhauerschule (school of sculpture) in Berlin. In ...



Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Mainland peninsula of modern-day Denmark and one of the three provinces (Jutland, Zealand and Skåne, southern Sweden) that constituted medieval Denmark. The conversion of the Danes to Christianity initiated a reorganization of the economic, social and legal structures of Denmark that would change the shape of Jutland dramatically between the 11th and 14th centuries. Under Knut the Great, King of Denmark and England (reg 1019–35), Jutland acquired a stable diocesan system (1060) that enabled a systematic collection of tithes and the growth of religious institutions between 1050 and 1250. During this period, agricultural practices changed as manor houses and landed estates were established, producing wealth for the ruling families. Under Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Knut VI (reg 1182–1202), Jutland witnessed a great building activity; on Jutland more than 700 stone churches were constructed, some replacing earlier wooden churches, each needing liturgical furnishings. Workshops, such as that of the renowned sculptor Horder and many others, were actively engaged in carving stone baptismal fonts (e.g. Malt, Skodborg, Ut, Stenild), capitals, reliefs (Vestervig, Aalborg) and tympana (Gjøl, Ørsted, Stjaer, Skibet), wooden cult figures, Jutland’s golden altars (Lisbjerg, Sahl, Stadil, Tamdrup) and wall paintings. Evidence of the earliest wall paintings in Jutland, ...


Dutch, 16th – 17th century, male.

Born 15 May 1565, in Utrecht; died 15 May 1621, in Amsterdam.

Painter, sculptor, medallist, architect. Religious subjects, portraits. Monuments, funerary monuments, busts.

Amsterdam School.

Hendrik de Keyser the Elder was taught by the sculptor C. Bloemaert in Dordrecht, and the painter Abr. Bloemaert. He was awarded the freedom of the city of Amsterdam on 24 October 1591, and was an architect to the town in 1594. He married on 6 August 1591, and had four sons and two daughters. Three of his sons - Pieter, Thomas and Willem - became artists. He taught Hans Stenwinckel. His architectural masterpiece was the tomb of William of Orange in the church in Delft. His sculptures include ...


Dutch, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Belgium.

Born 1946, in Aardenberg.

Sculptor, medallist. Religious subjects. Statues.

Henri Lannoye studied at the academy of fine art in Tilburg.

Vatican (Mus. Vaticani): Mortification


German, 19th century, male.

Born 9 November 1866, in Niedersedlitz, near Dresden; died 16 October 1937, in Berlin.

Sculptor (including bronze). Religious subjects, figures. Busts, statues, medals.

Arthur Lewin-Funcke studied at the Königliche Akademische Hochschule für Bildenden Künste, Berlin, under Ernst Herter, Gerhard Janensch and Albert Wolff ...


French, 20th century, male.

Born 26 July 1903, in Marquise, Artois; died 22 August 1894, in Antony near Paris.

Sculptor, draughtsman, potter, medallist. Religious subjects, allegorical subjects, portraits. Busts, monuments, low reliefs.

Édouard Manchuelle studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Boulogne-sur-Mer from 1921 to 1924...


Austrian, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 14 November 1859, in Baden, near Vienna; died 9 April 1925, in Vienna.

Painter, sculptor, medallist, illustrator. Religious subjects, figures, landscapes.

Johannes Mayerhofer studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna and worked mainly on decorations for churches....


French, 20th century, male.

Born 11 February 1926, in Autun.

Sculptor, medallist. Religious subjects, figures. Busts.

Menjaud joined up voluntarily in 1944 during World War II following his secondary school studies. He discovered sculpture at the Valenciennes academies under the direction of Bottiau. From 1947...


Hermann Maué

(b c. 1645; d Copenhagen, Jan 1, 1702).

Danish medallist, die-cutter and wax sculptor of German or Dutch origin. He probably learnt the trade of die-cutting in Copenhagen, where from 1667 onwards he worked for King Frederick III and King Christian V. In 1674 he moved to Stockholm and received a licence to produce medals, among which were several of Charles XI of Sweden and Queen Ulrike Eleonore. From 1674 to 1684 he was employed as a die-cutter at the Swedish Royal Mint, at the same time working as a goldsmith. In 1681 he accepted an invitation to the Mint in Paris, where he was given the title of Médailleur du Roi de France: he brought with him coining presses of his own invention. Meybusch returned to Stockholm in 1690 but moved back in that same year to Copenhagen, where in 1692 he received a post at the Danish court.

Forrer; Thieme–Becker L. O. Lagerquist and E. Nathorst-Böös...


Glenny Alfsen

(b Kongsberg, July 3, 1820; d Christiania [now Oslo], May 5, 1886).

Norwegian sculptor. He worked first as an apprentice goldsmith in Christiania, and then studied under Herman Wilhelm Bissen from 1840 to 1851 at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen. Here he adopted a conservative, late classical style, inspired by the art and literature of Denmark’s golden age. He lived in Rome between 1851 and 1860 and became familiar with the works of Classical and Renaissance masters. This experience increased his self-doubt, and he later became harshly self-critical. A font reflecting his admiration for Berthel Thorvaldsen is Middelthun’s only great work from this period (plaster, 1859; marble, 1865; Oslo, Trefoldighetskirken). He returned to Norway in 1860 and executed a series of busts, which established him as Norway’s leading portrait sculptor. His bust of the poet Johan Sebastian Welhaven (plaster, 1861; Oslo, Ubib.; marble, 1865; Oslo, N.G.), one of the most important examples of Norwegian portrait sculpture, is herm-like in form and, with its sense of classical balance and harmony, embodies the poet’s ideals. Middelthun’s later head-and-shoulders bust of the composer ...


French, 16th century, male.

Active in Bourges.

Born 16th century, in Châteauroux.

Sculptor, medallist.

Marsault Paul worked from 1511 to 1515 on Bourges Cathedral, contributing several scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary.


Italian, 17th – 18th century, male.

Born 1664, in Florence; died 1742.

Sculptor, metal worker. Religious subjects, allegorical subjects. Busts, statues.

Florentine School.

Giuseppe Piamontini was the father and teacher of Giovanni Battista Piamontini. Giuseppe was himself a pupil of G.B. Foggini and Ercole Ferrata. Two of his allegorical statues may be seen in Florence: ...


Italian, 17th – 18th century, male.

Born 12 November 1661, in Nona; died 1725, in Nona.

Sculptor, medallist. Religious subjects.

Piccini was a pupil of P. Rames. He was active in Milan, Bergamo and Nova, producing mainly medals, crucifixes and statuettes.