Sotheby's New York to Sell a Masterpiece by Tilman Riemenschneide r - January 2008 On January 24, 2008, Sotheby’s New York will offer for sale a masterpiece by the German Medieval sculptor, Tilman Riemenschneider.
News-Antique.com - Nov 14,2007 - New York, NY – On January 24, 2008, Sotheby’s New York will offer for sale a masterpiece by the German Medieval sculptor, Tilman Riemenschneider. The rare and important Franconian Limewood figure of Saint Catherine, circa 1505, is one of only two sculptures by the artist in private hands in the United States and only the second by the master to come to auction in either the United States or United Kingdom. A major work of Riemenschneider’s late style, the sculpture is estimated to sell for $4/6 million. Proceeds of the sale will benefit the Scherman Foundation which supports various non-profit organizations. Prior to auction, the sculpture will be on view from January 19-23, 2008.
Margaret Schwartz, Senior Vice President and Director of Sotheby’s European Works of Art Department, said, “This sculpture of Saint Catherine epitomizes Riemenschneider’s skill in creating a play of light in the carving of his drapery, as well as his fascination with detail and rich surface treatment. The present work is among the finest of German Gothic sculptures to ever appear at auction.”
Featuring all of the signatures of Riemenschneider’s distinctive style of carving, Saint Catherine’s is carved from a single piece of limewood and elaborately ornamented using at least nine different tools to represent the different texture and detailing of her clothing. Because of the nuances of the decoration, it isbelieved that she was not meant to be painted, as some works by the artist were. Her posture is elegant, enhanced by the elongated s-curve of her stance and by the balance of a variety of compositional details including: her long hair falling down her shoulders, the diagonals created by the folds of her mantle and skirt, the elongated neck and tilt of the head and the shift of weight from her left leg and hip to the right.
Dated to circa 1505 and measuring 41 ¼ in.(104.7cm.), the present sculpture was relatively unknown until the acclaimed exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tilman Riemenschneider, Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages in 1998. In the catalogue for the exhibition, the sculpture was among the great discoveries of the show, bringing to light new information about the sculptor’s use of punched decoration and tooling to enhance the surfaces of his sculptures.
The exhibition of Riemenschneider’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art also reunited the figure of Saint Catherine with two other works that it was thought to have been originally exhibited with. The figures of a Female Saint, St. Elizabeth and Saint Catherine were most likely made for the central shrine of a carved altar with other saints flanking a central group, such as the Virgin and child.
The sculpture was acquired by George Schuster of Munich in 1927 and has descended in the same family to the present owner. Prior to the exhibition in 1998 the figure had been seen only once in public in the last century, at the 1931 exhibition of Riemenschneider’s work in Hannover. Since the conclusion of the 1998/99