Altenberg Altarpiece

ca. 1330

Mixed technique on firwood
Inv. No. SG 358–361

zur  Biographie

left wing: Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of Christ, Adoration of the Magi;
right wing: St. Michael, Coronation of the Virgin, St. Elizabeth, Death of the Virgin


The wings of the altar retable from the Premonstratensian Abbey of Altenberg near Wetzlar belonged to a shrine displaying a sculpture of the Madonna and Child in its centre. It was this image that the three magi originally faced as they knelt down in a gesture of adoration. Opposite them, on the right-hand wing, we see St. Elizabeth dressing a beggar and, behind her, a nun. The latter might represent the donor or Elizabeth’s daughter Gertrud, the abbess of the convent. The elegant two-dimensionality of the robed figures and their disproportionately slender limbs are characteristic of the High Gothic Style of the early fourteenth century.

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