MULTSCHER, Hans
(b. ca. 1400, Reichenhofen/Allgau, d. 1467, Ulm)

Resurrection

1437
Panel, 148 x 140 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The Risen Christ, draped only in a bright red cloth, sits on a massive stone sarcophagus, the red seals on the lid of which are unbroken. The body of Christ bears the stigmata of the Crucifixion. His right hand is raised in the gesture of benediction, while in the left He holds a staff surmounted by a cross. In the confined space between the sarcophagus and the enclosing fence four armed soldiers lie in a deep sleep.

The Resurrection is one of the panels from a winged altar of considerable dimensions which has been lost without trace. Originally there was a carved central shrine, in which a Crucifixion group was probably represented. When the wings were closed, the altar showed four scenes relating to the Madonna; these (from top left to bottom right) were The Nativity, The Adoration of the Magi, The Descent of the Holy Ghost and The Death of the Virgin. When opened, the inner sides of the wings showed four scenes from the Passion, which flanked the central Crucifixion. Thus Christ on the Mount of Olives (top left), served as a companion-piece to Christ before Pilate (top right), while Christ bearing the Cross (bottom left), was placed opposite The Resurrection.

The original location of the altar has never been established. When it was dismantled, the front and rear sides of the wings became separated. On the two lower panels of the closed altar, showing The Descent of the Holy Ghost and The Death of the Virgin, the artist appended his signature : `bitte got für hanssen muoltscheren vo richehove burg ze ulm haut dz werk gemacht do ma zalt MCCCXXXVII'. Records show that in 1427 the Swabian artist, who came from Reichenhafen near Leutkirch, became a burgher of Ulm, where he worked not only as a painter but more often as a sculptor and engraver. The strength and solidity of the painted figures and their remarkable realism leave one in no doubt that Multscher combined the skills of both sculptor and painter, even though, in keeping with medieval practice, he may well have made use of a well-staffed workshop.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 3 minutes):
Guillaume Dufay: Hymn for Easter