Maria Magdalena by Tilman Riemenschneider c. 1460-1531

Price on request

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Object Description

“The discovery of the century” for a medieval wooden sculpture as some people say.

Object History

After two and a half years of intensive research, we are proud to conclude that our sculpture is a new discovery of a completely unknown work of Tilman Riemenschneider.

Purchased at a public sale of a Dutch auction house.

The provenance is known, but will only be available for the buyer.

Since the moment of purchase our research was starting.

When the sculpture was purchased, it had a later 19th century over painted surface.
This was also concluded in the laboratory of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam where our Riemenschneider has been examinated also by research workers in this field of the Rijksmuseum. The test done by the laboratory of The Rijksmuseum and the conclusion of the research workers we have in an officially report of the Rijksmuseum, which also confirms that we have to do with a work of Tilman Riemenschneider. This test report will only be available for the buyer.

After this positive result two Carbon tests were made on our sculpture which also concluded that the wood comes exactly from the Tilman Riemenschneider period and that the sculpture was carved from one block of lime wood of a high quality, because there is only one knot at the front and Tilman Riemenschneider has covered this in a genius way with the special shape of the gallipot.

That the hands, the gallipot and the body were carved from one block of wood you can also see by the grain of the wood, the “barcode”, because this grain runs from the right arm over the hand over the gallipot to the second hand and arm.

As written in the Tilman Riemenschneider books, when you find a sculpture of Tilman Riemenschneider and it is carved out of one block of wood, most of the time you have to do with a work of the master himself.

When the later 19th century paint was painstakingly very carefully removed the original black painted eyes and partly the black painted eye lids were recovered and you can see the magnificent overall result on the first photo above, made in daylight.

After the later paint was removed we are now able to see the sculpture exactly the way Tilman Riemenschneider saw it when he made it.

The sculpture has not been restored, the photo shows the sculpture after the later paint was removed with only a thin layer of specially made beeswax.

For a Riemenschneider sculpture, our sculpture has one of the best conserved female Saint faces, no cracks in the face, no missing pieces of the nose.

Also no missing hands or too many worm holes.

Our sculpture shows the typical Tilman Riemenschneider carving, proportions and characteristics.

Most Interesting on the two following photo’s is to see our sculpture side by side under the same light conditions with the well-known Tilman Riemenschneider’s female Saint in the collection at Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, UK.
It is striking to see the similarity of the proportion of the faces, the expression and other details.
You also see a photo of the reverse of the two sculptures.

We also have compared our sculpture over the two and a half years of the research with the known Tilman Riemenschneider sculptures in the collections of Museums and the ones in the Tilman Riemenschneider books and again it is striking to see the similarities with all the other known Tilman Riemenschneider sculptures.

We have made our own report of ten pages about these similarities which are striking. This report will only be available for the buyer.

To our opinion, our sculpture was born as an original half figure and you can conclude this, by the high position of both hands, the free arms , the type of folds in the dress and the small vertical cracks in the base and the way the scarf ends behind the right arm and that there are no traces of this scarf coming out under the right arm.
You can compare our half figure with the three also original half figures who Tilman Riemenschneider has made for the Cathedral in Würzburg, which are destroyed in 1945.
These three half figures where finished also on the reverse, because they where meant to be free standing.
Our figure was meant to be standing in a Predella or in an Altar.

By whole figures of Tilman Riemenschneider the hands/ arms are in a much lower position or one arm is completely stretched downwards to the hip and by whole figures Tilman Riemenschneider starts, most of the time, under the breast with complicated zig / zag folds.
When you cut such a figure in half you always cut through the decoration, which means through the arms and through the complicated folds and through the scarf which usually sticks out under the right arm and that would be clearly visible.

So if our sculpture would have been a whole figure, the hands/arms would never have been in this high position as they are now and the folds would have been in a more complicated zig/zag shape and our sculpture would never have the small vertical cracks in the base, because these cracks only exist after hundreds of years standing directly on a stone foundation. (damp?)

These typical small vertical base cracks you can see in principal by all Tilman Riemenschneider sculptures.
Tilman Riemenchneider sculptures which were cut in half in a much later period ( 18/19th. century) do not have these small vertical cracks.

Our sculpture belongs to a small group of Tilman Riemenschneider sculptures, which are the best preserved by the time and of an incredible beauty and we can also conclude that our sculpture has always been meant to be not painted, but as” holzsichtig” ( plain wood) you can see that by the fine carving of the details, by the double M and by the fine lace of the chemise, also the black painted eyes speak for this.

Another very interesting point is that the famous Maria Magdalena altar, made for the Magdalena church in Munnerstadt has also been repainted a few times and for the last time in 1830 and this later paint has also been removed and some sculptures of this altar are in the collection of the Bayerisches National Museum in Munchen.
Because our sculpture is also a Maria Magdalena, there could be a possibility that there is a connection of our sculpture with this Magdalena altar/Magdalena church, because it is known that there was a second Maria Magdalena sculpture in this altar and already in 1490 you can read in the quotation for this altar that busts were planned in the underpart of the altar.Another point which speaks for this possibility is that Tilman Riemenschneider has finished the typical folds at the end of the sleeves by the right hand of our Maria Magdalena in principal exactly the same way as the folds of the end of the sleeves by the right hand of Mark / Markus also made for the Predella of this Munnerstadter Altar. (on the original invoice for this Altar you can read that original busts were planned in this Predella.)
It is really surprisingly that both ends of the sleeves are exactly the same and it proves that Tilman Riemenschneider was working in that period on this way.

Object Details

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