(b. 1420, Bamberg, d. 1472, Nürnberg)

Crucifixion of the Hof Altarpiece

Mixed technique on pine panel, 177 x 112 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

There can hardly have been any Netherlandish panel painters after around the middle of the 15th century who did not employ motifs deriving from Rogier van der Weyden, at least occasionally. But his influence extended far beyond the Burgundian Netherlands. In Italy, motifs from those of the master's paintings present in that country were adopted. Very few French pictures of the period have been preserved, but those that are extant often borrow motifs from Rogier.

But it was in the German-speaking territories, from Lower Saxony to Austria, that his art met with the greatest response. As in the Netherlands, it ranged from extensive copying and attempts to imitate Rogier's style to the citation of memorable figures, and finally to independent reworking of his pictures. The nature of these echoes, of course, also depended on how the painters had come to know the pictures. Some German artists visited the Netherlands, generally during their journeyman period, and could have been in contact with Netherlandish workshops there. Others would have known Rogier's art only indirectly, through German artists who were already familiar with it, and from imitations. Finally, imported works by Rogier or his immediate successors played a part in the distribution of his pictorial ideas that should not be underestimated. In Cologne, for instance, the St. Columba Altarpiece (Alte Pinakothek, Munich) exerted a lasting influence on both native and foreign artists into the early 16th century. In the Crucifixion on his Hof altarpiece, completed in 1465, Hans Pleydenwurff of Nuremberg used figural motifs from a small Deposition (Alte Pinakothek, Munich) from Rogier's circle which had obviously made its way to southern Germany at quite an early date. In fact, the Nuremberg painter shows such familiarity with "Netherlandish realism" that he must have had previous contact with modern Flemish painting.

This Crucifixion panel, with three others, belonged to the high altar of the church of St Michael, Hof. Pleydenwurff executed it with the participation of assistants in his workshop. The groups around the Virgin Mary and the centurion contain motifs from a Deposition after Rogier that found its way to Franconia quite early. At the same time the powerful, broad-headed figures and the colouring illustrate both the local tradition of Nuremberg and also Pleydenwurff's own artistic temperament.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 11 minutes):
Georges de la Hele: Missa "Nigra sum"