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One of the most important of Frankish sculptors, b. at Osterode am Harz in or after 1460; d. at Würzburg, 1531. In 1483 he was admitted into the Guild of St. Luke at Würzburg, where he worked until his death. In the tombstone of the Ritter von Grumbach he still adheres to the Gothic style, but in his works for the Marienkapelle at Würzburg he adopts the Renaissance style, while retaining reminiscences of earlier art. For the south entrance he carved, besides an annunciation and a representation of Christ as a gardener, the afterwards renowned statues of Adam and Eve, the heads of which are of special importance. There also he showed his gift of depicting character in the more than life-size statues of Christ, the Baptist, and the Twelve Apostles for the buttresses. Elsewhere indeed we seek in vain for the merits of rounded sculpture. He had a special talent for the noble representation of female saints (cf. for example, Sts. Dorothea and Margareta in the same chapel, and the Madonna in the Münsterkirche). A small Madonna (now in the municipal museum at Frankfort) is perfect both in expression and drapery. Besides other works for the above-mentioned churches and a relief with the "Vierzehn Nothelfer" for the hospital (St. Burkhard), he carved for the cathedral of Würzburg a tabernacle reaching to the ceiling, two episcopal tombs, and a colossal cross—all recognized as excellent works by those familiar with the peculiar style of the master. Riemenschneider's masterpiece is the tomb of Emperor Henry II in the Cathedral of Bamberg; the recumbent forms of the emperor and his spouse are ideal, while the sides of the tomb are adorned with fine scenes from their lives. The figures instinct with life, the drapery, and the expression of sentiment, are all of equal beauty. Among his representations of the "Lament over Christ", those of Heidingsfeld and Maidbrunn, in spite of some defects, are notable works; resembling the former, but still more pleasing, is a third in the university collection. The defects in many of his works are probably to be referred for the most part to his numerous apprentices. There are a great number of other works by him in various places, e.g. a beautiful group of the Crucifixion in the Darmstadt Museum, another at Volkach am Main representing Our Lady surrounded by a rosary with scenes from her life in relief and being crowned by angels playing music—the picture is suspended from the roof.
There is a second Meister Tillmann Riemenschneider, who carved the Virgin's altar in Creglingen. This bears so close a resemblance to the works of the younger "Master Dill", that recently many believed it should be referred to him; in that case, however, he would have executed one of his best works as a very young man.
BODE, Gesch. der deutschen Plastik (Berlin, 1885); WEBER, Leben u. Wirken T. Riemenschneiders (2nd ed., Würzburg, 1888); TONNERS, Leben u. Werke T. Riemenschneiders (Strasburg, 1900); ADELMANN in Walhalla, VI (1910).