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Gallery Text

Riemenschneider is one of the best-documented masters of early Renaissance sculpture in southern Germany; he worked with an able workshop to provide monumental altarpieces in that region. The narrow depth of this statue (only six inches) and its hollowed-out back and straight right edge suggest that it was designed to fit into an architectural space as part of a multifigural carved altarpiece. In contrast to other sculptors whose works were painted, Riemenschneider made expressive use of linden wood’s natural grain and surface qualities. His deeply cut lines give rise to a remarkable play of light and shadow, as is apparent in the rich drapery folds and elaborately carved locks of hair of the emaciated hermit saint. Because the statue is so shallow, the hands (now missing) had to be made separately and set into the sleeves. They would have held Anthony’s attributes, a staff and a book.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tilman Riemenschneider, German (c. 1460 - 1531)
Saint Anthony Abbot
Work Type
c. 1510
Level 2, Room 2540, European Art, 13th–16th century, The Renaissance
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Physical Descriptions
Linden wood
115.6 x 33 x 14 cm (45 1/2 x 13 x 5 1/2 in.)
Dr. F. Haniel, Bavaria, Germany. Private collection, Belgium. [Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, NY (? -1969), sold]; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1969.

According to correspondence with Rosenberg & Stiebel in February 1969, the dealer purchased the sculpture from a Belgian collector who wanted to remain anonymous. Rosenberg & Stiebel was able to determine that the sculpture originally came for the estate of Dr. F. Haniel in Bavaria, Germany.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Antonia Paepcke DuBrul Fund and Special Gifts from the Friends of Charles L. Kuhn
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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back hollowed out
Publication History

Anneliese Harding, German Sculpture in New England Museums, Goethe Institute (Boston, MA, 1972), p. 15, repr. p. 41 as fig. 52 (detail)

Charles L. Kuhn, "Riemenschneider in the Harvard Collections", Art Bulletin (1974), LVI, pp. 244-247, p. 245-247, repr. p. 246 as fig. 3 and p. 247 as fig. 5 (detail)

Charles Werner Haxthausen, "The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard: the Germanic Tradition", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 403-413, p. 411

Justus Bier, Tilmann Riemenschneider: Die Späten Werke in Holz, Verlag A. Schroll & Co., g.m.b.h. (Vienna, Austria, 1978), p. 152 [in listing of works assigned to Riemenschneider]

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), pp. 13, 103, repr. pp. 102-103

Justus Bier, Tilmann Riemenschneider: His Life and Work, The University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY, 1982), pp. 68-70, repr. as pls. 12 A-B

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 349, p. 295, repr.

Anita F. Moskowitz, Gothic Sculpture in America, I: The New England Museums, ed. Dorothy W. Gillerman, Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York, 1989), no. 165 pp. 204-205, repr.

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 328-329, repr. color

Julien Chapuis, Tilman Riemenschneider: Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC, 1999), p. 157 [in: Timeline of Selected North American Acquisitions of German Late Gothic Sculpture]

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 231

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 71, repr.

Exhibition History

Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu