Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Art and Art History
This project explores the meaning of monochrome in the work of the early sixteenth century German sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider (1460-1531). The Jakobskirche (St. James Church) in Rothenburg, Germany houses his most famous work; the entirely monochromatic Holy Blood Altarpiece, completed in 1505. Riemenschneider’s Holy Blood Altarpiece functioned as an altarpiece and a reliquary for three drops of sacramental blood from the thirteenth century which made St. James a well-known pilgrimage site for several centuries. While Riemenschneider’s altar stands in the West choir of the church, the high altar of St. James stands in the East, polychromed with rich colors and gilding. Riemenschneider’s divergence from color and traditional altarpiece production is evident in the dichotomy between the two altarpieces of St. James church. While scholars have recognized Riemenschneider’s divergence from color and his mastery of sculpting in limewood, his motivations and ability to do so have not been fully explored. In response, this paper considers the various reasons as to why Riemenschneider was able to make monochrome sculptures and how those factors inform his art production. I argue that Riemenschneider was able to choose monochrome because the artistic climate at the time allowed him to do so and that monochrome is simply one facet of his larger, more complex sculptural production.
Bland, Grace, "The Carver's Choice: Tilman Riemenschneider's Monochromatic Altarpiece of the Holy Blood" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1567.
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