PACHER, Michael
(b. ca. 1435, Bruneck, d. 1498, Salzburg)

St Wolfgang Altarpiece: Nativity

Wood, 173 x 140,5 cm
Parish Church, Sankt Wolfgang

The picture shows one of the panels of the St Wolfgang Altarpiece.

Although the St Wolfgang Altarpiece shows a purely German emotionalism, the richness of the brocades, the attention given to the structure of the bodies and the landscape, the bold foreshortenings and viewpoints and finally the complete mastery of the use of light, show the influence exerted on Pacher's work by the school of Mantegna and of Giovanni Bellini. This new understanding of one of the essential problems of Renaissance painting, 'namely composition in depth rendered by means of linear and aerial perspective, must have been in the nature of a revelation to the German school, which had ignored the achievement of Witz. It was Pacher, together with Rueland Frueauf the Younger of Salzburg, with their great perception of the charms of the rural setting, who paved the way for the ` landscapists ' of the Danube school whose work influenced the still expressionistic Cranach at the beginning of the 16th century.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):
Michael Praetorius: Motet