(active 1485-1525 in Saxony)

Tulip Pulpit

Cathedral, Freiberg

At the period most churches were equipped with a pulpit from which homilies, sermons and announcements were given to the congregation. Hans Witten's conception, later dubbed the Tulip Pulpit, was uniquely biomorphic. Like a giant flower, its great stem seems to emerge from the ground before sprouting into a Eucharist chalice-like bloom. Small angels play amid its tendrils, and busts of the Latin Church Fathers (Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory and Jerome) ornament the basket. The sounding board above contains half-length figures of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, who holds a cluster of grapes, accompanied by symbols of the four evangelists. Lions, alluding to the wisdom of Solomon, guard the steps. Thick vines, cut to mimic the texture of bark, and, almost hidden, a young man perched on a tree trunk support the stairs. By the foot of the pulpit sits an older bearded man. Fingering his rosary, he perpetually listens to words preached above, much like the devout who crowd around the pulpit mini contemporary images.