Hans Sixt von Staufen | 7th Tiberius Auction
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Hans Sixt von Staufen

7th Tiberius Auction

Hans Sixt von Staufen

After Sale Price:  22.752

  • BTC: 1,43974656 ฿
  • USD: 23.662 $
  • GBP: 19.549 £
  • CNY: 178.034 ¥

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Hans Sixt von Staufen
Circle of
“Birth of Christ”
Upper Rhine
Around 1520
Wooden relief
Length 58 cm, height 50 cm, depth 18 cm

This museum-quality relief can be attributed to the circle of the Late Gothic master sculptor Hans Sixt von Staufen, who was active between 1515 and 1532, as shown by archival evidence. He probably ran a workshop in Staufen, influenced by the carvings of the Würzburg School. Sixt von Staufen was probably also familiar with works by Tilmann Riemenschneider (c. 1460-1531), who executed the carved surfaces in a similar manner.

The Holy Family is depicted in the foreground: Mary and Joseph frame the infant Jesus lying on Mary’s cloak. Between them are two figures in religious habit, greatly reduced in size, who can potentially be identified as the donors of the relief. Behind them, an ox and a donkey look down on the central event from behind the fence of the stable. The architecture of the stable is represented by a gable roof made of tiles and opened to the side. In the upper right field of the relief, a shepherd with his dog guards his flock of sheep, which is represented by three little sheep within a hilly landscape. With his right hand he grasps his hat in an apparently surprised gesture; perhaps the moment when the shepherd learns the news of the birth of Christ is shown here.

All in all, the figures stand out above all because of their individualised faces; large eyes look out from behind concisely rendered upper eyelids, with the gazes of all present meeting at the child and thus also directing the viewer’s gaze there. The hands folded in a gesture of prayer can also be understood as an invitation to the viewer to pay appropriate homage to this devotional picture. A playful aspect is the wriggling Jesus, who has raised his little hands and is looking up at his mother. This establishes a close relationship between mother and child, reflecting the intimacy between Mary and Jesus. Joseph, while acting as a compositionally equal figure, seems almost like a supporting figure. Although he gazes spellbound at the child, he does not have his hands folded in front of his chest but seems to be holding a kind of tool.

Stylistically, this is a masterpiece of the Late Gothic period. Special attention was paid to the texture of the different surfaces and the artfully twisted strands of hair ending in volute-shaped curls. The moving folds, such as the large, puffy ear fold of Joseph’s cloak or the deeply furrowed crease and corner fold configurations in Mary’s garment, are characteristic features of the master sculptor. The Virgin of Mercy of the Lochererkapelle, which Sixt created as his main work from 1521-24, can serve as a comparative example, among others. It is also carved as a deep relief with complex draperies and shows groups of donor figures, executed in realistic figure types.

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