(b. ca. 1460, Osterode, d. 1531, Würzburg)


German sculptor, active in Würzburg, where he is first recorded in 1483. With Stoss, he was the outstanding German late Gothic sculptor, and his workshop was large and productive. He was primarily a woodcarver (he was the first German sculptor to leave the wood unpainted), but he also worked in stone. His style was intricate, but also balanced and harmonious, with none of the extreme emotionalism often seen in German art of the period. One of his masterpieces is the Altar of the Virgin (circa 1501, Creglingen, Germany), which combines relief carvings illustrating the life of the Virgin with a central sculptural representation of the Assumption. The solid, broad forms of some of his late work indicate the possible influence of Italian Renaissance sculpture, which was soon to supplant the Gothic style.

He held various offices in city government, and in 1525 he was tortured and briefly imprisoned because he was one of the councilmen who refused to support the use of force against the rebels in the Peasants' War. Much of Riemenschneider's work is still in the churches for which it was carved, but he is also well represented in the Mainfrankisches Museum in Würzburg. Two of his sons, Jörg and Hans, were sculptors, and two others, Bartholomeus (a pupil of Dürer) and Tilman, were painters.