(active 1015-1020 in Hildesheim)

Triumphal column (detail)

Cathedral, Hildesheim

The picture shows a column cast for Archbishop Bernward of Hildesheim.

The Archbishop of Hildesheim, St Bernward (993-1022), was a humanist and an artist. He was tutor to the Emperor Otto III, and made several journeys to Rome. No doubt inspired by what he saw there, he commissioned for his cathedral a pair of bronze doors, a cross, and various other objects in bronze and gold. It was said that he himself designed these works. The bronze column, which is actually an outsize paschal candlestick, is obviously inspired by Trajan's column, and illustrates the prestige that antiquity persistently enjoyed in the eyes of German artists. But whereas the Roman column celebrated imperial triumphs, Bernward's was dedicated to the triumph of Christ on Earth, the band of sculptures spiraling up it recounting the life of Christ.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.