Altarpiece for the Pilgrimage Church of Sankt Wolfgang (1479-81)
by Michael PACHER

Michael Pacher's masterpiece, the Altarpiece for the Pilgrimage Church of Sankt Wolfgang in Upper Austria (centre completed in 1479; wings completed in 1481) is one of the largest and most impressive carved and painted altar shrines in all of European art. The carved, painted, and gilded centrepiece represents the Coronation of the Virgin, and there are two sets of painted wings with scenes of the Life of Christ and of the local, miracle-working saint, Wolfgang. The whole complex is surmounted by an intricate wooden superstructure containing the Crucifixion. In the central shrine Christ is enthroned, solemnly blessing his mother, whom he has crowned as Queen of Heaven. Angels, beloved in German Gothic art, flutter about, while the life-sized figures of St Wolfgang and John the Evangelist bear witness. His brittle and agitated sculptural style demanded that each element be freestanding in a space that is deeply recessed.

The painted panels, with their deep architectural perspective and dramatic foreshortening, indicate a knowledge of Andrea Mantegna. The sculptural portions, with their intricate detail, bright polychrome, and sweeping draperies, show his attachment to northern traditions; and the architectural elements show an extravagant version of the late Gothic style.

Pacher was one of the earliest artists to introduce the principles of Renaissance painting into German-speaking regions.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 6 minutes):
Josquin Desprez: Benedicta es coelorum Regina, motet


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
St Wolfgang Altarpiece
1479-81
Polychrome pine
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

704*1055
True Color
176 Kb



Coronation of the Virgin between St Wolfgang and St Benedict
1479-81
Polychrome pine
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

750*897
True Color
182 Kb



Coronation of the Virgin
1471-81
Wood, gilt and polychromed
Parish Church, St. Wolfgang

980*811
True Color
181 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Nativity
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

705*1040
True Color
120 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Circumcision
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

750*1091
True Color
152 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Scenes from the Life of Christ
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm (each panel)
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

1000*1179
True Color
177 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Baptism of Christ
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

660*795
True Color
67 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Temptation of Christ
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

648*792
True Color
66 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: The Attempt to Stone Christ
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

657*795
True Color
76 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Purification of the Temple
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

655*795
True Color
79 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Scenes from the Life of Christ
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm (each panel)
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

1000*1178
True Color
182 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Marriage at Cana
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

651*795
True Color
71 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: The Miracle of the Bread
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

660*801
True Color
68 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Christ and the Adulteress
1479-81
Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

648*804
True Color
82 Kb



St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Resurrection of Lazarus
1479-81
Tempera on wood, 175 x 130 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

900*1126
True Color
202 Kb




Works by Michael PACHER
Sankt Wolfgang Altarpiece | Various altarpieces