STOSS, Veit
(b. ca. 1438, Horb, d. 1533, Nürnberg)

Annunciation

1517-18
Polychrome limewood, height 515 cm
St Lorenzkirche, Nuremberg

This Angelic Salutation is one of the most beautiful examples of German Renaissance sculpture. The ensemble hangs fro the choir vault before the high altar in St Lorenz's in Nuremberg. The large scale and life-like polychromy of this grand Annunciation assure its visibility throughout the church. Hovering effortlessly between heaven and earth, Gabriel and Mary are accompanied by a host of small angels, some joyfully ringing bells and playing instruments. A garland of roses, punctuated by seven medallions illustrating episodes from Mary's and Christ's lives, and a giant rosary frames them. Originally a huge golden crown hung above the entire group.

The work was commissioned in 1517 by Anton II Tucher, the highest official of Nuremberg. Germany's shifting religious climate from the late 1510s determined the Angelic Salutation's future. In 1519 Tucher placed a cloth over the sculptures since, like many reliquaries and altarpiece corpuses, it was exposed only on certain church holidays. Tucher and the city officially broke with the Catholic Church and embraced Lutheranism in 1525. Lutheranism had no need for most religious art; the Angelic Salutation, as a devotional object with no liturgical function, was in peril. In 1529 the city council decreed that its cover would always remain on. Because the sculptures was considered the private property of the Tucher family, they were shrouded and decommissioned, but other than the crown, not destroyed by the iconoclasts' axe and fire that claimed art in communities in northern Europe.




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