Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Tallinn Altarpiece

The latest issue of the Danish based webjournal Medieval Histories has a piece about the recent award-winning restoration of the Rode altarpiece in Tallinn which I have copied and pasted. The reredos was commissioned in 1478 and delivered in 1481:

Hermen Rode Altarpiece in Tallinn under conservation © Hermen Rode Project

Rode Altarpiece Fetches Europa Nostra Prize

The Gothic Rode Altarpiece in Tallinn is renowned. Recent Research and Conservation Project received the Europa Nostra prize 2017

Hermen Rode (fl.1468 – 1504) was a German painter from Lübeck. Of his life, very little is known except that he lived and worked in Lübeck in Johannisstrasse, where he owned a house. Together with Bernt Notke, and Claus Berg, he dominated the art scene around the Baltic at the end of the 15th century.

For several years Hermen Rode and his art have been the researched by a group of art historians and conservationist, restoring his main work, an altarpiece from Tallinn. Recently – 2017 – this work was awarded an Europa Nostra prize.

The altar, which measures six metres in width and three and a half metres in height, is considered on of the grandest Late Gothic masterpieces from Northern Germany. The altarpiece is double winged with outer painted wings and more than 40 sculptures in the interior. The wings tell the stories of SS. Nicholas and Victor. In the background is a famous rendition of the walls and skyline of Lübeck.

The altarpiece is currently exhibited in the St. Nicholas Museum, but the schedule for opening follows the medieval practice. Thus, it can only be seen in its full glory three times a year. Part of the project has provided a touchscreen, which allows visitors to explore the art in details.

Although the altarpiece underwent a partial restoration by Russian conservationists at the end of the 70s, it was left in a dilapidated state, and it was not 2016 careful restoration could unveil it in all its glory.

Other prominent examples of the work of Hermen Rode are the altarpieces from St. Catherine’s Church in Lübeck, now in the Museum of St. Anna, a severely damaged triptych in Stockholm (Historical Museum) and several others from minor Swedish churches (Vansjö and Sorunda)

There is more about the restoration at Rode Altarpiece in Close-up — Niguliste Museum
and Google has a whole range of general and detailed views at Images for Hermen Rode altar

What little is known about Rode is summarised at Hermen Rode

It is a wonderful example and reminder of the artistic and cultural vitality as well as of the spirituality and piety of the Baltic region in the later medieval period.


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