Master of Seeon
10th Tiberius Auction
Mühldorf am Inn, 15th century, workshop, attributed
Wood carved & polychromed
Height 80 cm
Condition very good due to age
This high-quality depiction of a bishop can be attributed to the workshop of the Master of Seeon. The sculptor with this provisional name is especially known for the Sedes Sapientiae, which originally came from the parish and monastery church of St. Lambert in Seeon. The so-called Seeon Madonna (today Bavarian National Museum Munich, inv. no. MA 1126) as well as other Madonna figures have been preserved, but so far only a single male figure has been securely attributed. Therefore, this sculpture in its very good state of preservation represents a true rarity.
The bishop wears the typical vestment with cross ornamentation as well as the traditional liturgical headdress (mitre). He is conceived in a frontal view and probably originally presented the viewer with other attributes such as the crosier. Short curls emerge from under the mitre and frame his elongated face. Striking facial features are the high eyebrow ridges, almond-shaped eyes, a prominent nose, and a broad mouth.
Most revealing for the attribution to the workshop of the Master of Seeon are the parallel bowl folds that fall down the centre and end in the V-shaped hem of the upper garment. The flowing modelling of the textile falling down beneath the arms shows clear echoes of the so-called International Style around 1400. The lower garment is noticeable in doughy, close-fitting folds on the bottom surface, these indicating the soft texture of the fabric.
Comparable figures such as a holy bishop (Hampel Fine Art) or a saint Paul (Sotheby’s) were auctioned on the art market at high prices. The overall appearance of the figure, the hair style, as well as the multiple stylised bowl folds along the torso are characteristic features. The figure presented here, however, stands out especially for its luminous polychromy.
H. Ramisch, Ulm und die Salzburger Plastik im 15. Jahrhundert, Hanns Sweicker von Ulm, der Bildhauer der Pröpste von Chiemsee in der Zeit von 1430 bis 1467, in: Rainer Kahsnitz and Peter Volk (eds.), Skulptur in Süddeutschland 1400-1770, Festschrift für Alfred Schädler, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich/Berlin 1998, pp. 17-50.
A. Miller, Der Meister von Seeon, in: A. Miller (ed.), Maria, Light in the Middle Ages, Masterpieces of the Gothic, exhibition catalogue Leogang, Bergbaumuseum, 18 June – 31 October 2003, Gemeinde Leogang, Bergbaumuseum, Leogang, pp. 36-45.
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