Germany Early Arts


The surviving artistic products of the barbarian populations settled in the German-speaking territories (Bavarians, Alamanni, Thuringians, Franks, Saxons) are limited to goldsmithing (with zoomorphic and intertwining motifs), weapons and ceramics. No building remains from the period from the century. V to VII (they were mostly small churches in the form of simple apsidal halls). Monumental architecture flourished with Charlemagne, who erected palaces with imperial chapels and the first great basilicas. The most important Carolingian monuments that have come down to us are located in Lorsch (Torhalle, 790), Aachen (palatine chapel, 804), Corvey (cathedral, 873-885; the building has an imposing Westwerk). The churches of Fulda (Fulda II, 790-818) and Hersfeld (831-850), the St. Savior of Paderborn (831) and the cathedral of Cologne (870) had double choir with the chair for the emperor. Little or nothing remains of the monumental painting (fragments of frescoes in Trier and Lorsch) and of the bronze sculpture (gates of the Palatine chapel in Aachen), while conspicuous are the testimonies of the miniature (manuscripts of the Ada group), of the goldsmith’s art, of the ‘ivory carving (Metz). With the Treaty of Verdun (843) and the separation of the territory of the eastern and western Franks, began the process of forming a properly German art. At first the invasions of the Hungarians, Normans and Saracens caused a stagnation in the artistic activity; then, around 950, with the dynasty of the Ottoni, the first flowering of German art took place. The most fruitful center of artistic activity was the Saxon area. Here arose the masterpieces of Ottonian architecture: St. Michael of Hildesheim and the chapter church of Gernrode (begun in 961). Other notable buildings are St. Pantaleon of Cologne (with Westwerk), the churches of the Reichenau on Lake Constance, St. Bartholomew of Paderborn, the monastery of Hersfeld. Monumental sculpture (Cross of Gereon in Cologne, ca. 969-976; Our Lady of Essen, ca. 1000). Hildesheim was the center of monumental cast bronze sculpture (monumental gates and bronze columns of St. Michael, by Bernward, 993-1022). Among the few remains of fresco painting, those of St. George in Reichenau stand out with the Miracles of Christ (ca. 1000). In the field of the production of illuminated manuscripts, goldsmiths, ivories, the great conventual craft shops flourished, including those of Reichenau, Fulda, S. Pantaleone of Cologne, St. Emmeram of Regensburg, S. Maximin of Trier, Hildesheim, Echternach. Under the Salii the stylistic evolution of Ottonian art continued and the center of gravity of artistic production moved to the Rhenish areas. The great Salic architecture reached its peaks in the imperial cathedrals of Speyer (1027-61) and Mainz (1009-36) rebuilt after 1080 by Henry IV and in the churches of Cologne (St. Maria im Kapitol, the Holy Apostles). A masterpiece of secular architecture is the palace of the Salii in Goslar. For the sculpture we remember the bronze doors of Augusta (ca. 1080) and the wooden ones of St. Maria im Kapitol in Cologne (ca. 1040-60).


According to Sunglasseswill, the painters of the following period (c.1490-1530) are included in the category of the German Renaissance, but their interpretation of Italian classicism is extremely autonomous (Albrecht Dürer) and always pervaded by an intense spirituality that anticipates the mannerist anxieties (H. Baldung, L. Cranach, H. Burgkmair, A. Altdorfer, H. Holbein) when he does not even yield to a gothicizing expressionism (M. Grünewald). In the great German sculpture of the same period the dependencies on the Gothic tradition are even more evident. Almost every city boasted the work of great sculptors in stone, bronze and especially wood (H. Multscher and the Syrlin in Ulm; B. Notke, C. Berg and B. Dreyer in the Hanseatic cities; E. Grasser in Munich; H.. Leinberger in Landshut; V. Stoss, A. Kraft and P. Vischer the Elder in Nuremberg; T. Riemenschneider in Würzburg etc.). Alongside painting and wood carving, woodcut (xylography) and on copper which, born in Germany at the beginning of the century. XV, had among its greatest representatives the Master of Playing Cards (active from about 1430), I. von Meckenem (d. 1503), the Master of the House Book (second half of the XV century), M. Schongauer (1453-1491), A. Dürer.


The great flowering of German art ended around 1530 with the first consequences of the Reformation. The architecture of the German sixteenth century has less interest. While churches continued to be built in the late Gothic style (except in exceptional cases such as the Fugger chapel in Augsburg, 1509-18), in municipal buildings, castles and residences (Landshut, 1537-43; Heidelberg, from 1544; Munich, 1563-71) a hybrid style emerged that used the most anti-classical elements of mannerism in a “barbaric” keyItalian, in close parallel with what happened in the Netherlands. The Dutch influence was particularly noticeable in civil architecture, characterized by “banded pediments” (Lemgo, Bremen, Hanover, Celle). At the end of the century. XVI and in the first decades of the XVII the Catholic courts of southern Germany (that of the Habsburgs and that of Bavaria) became centers of the latest international mannerism. In architecture there was a reaction to irrationalism and decoration: while the Jesuits spread a type of church in which the Gothic structure of the Wandpfeilerkirche is translated into classical styles (Michaelskirche of Munich, 1583-97; Trinity of Aschaffenburg; Jesuit church of Dillingen, 1610-17), the architect and urban planner E. Holl he created in Augusta (town hall, 1615-20) an evocative variant of European purism, in parallel with the works of Vignola in Italy, of J. de Herrera in Spain, of De Keizer in Holland. In the cities of Bavaria (Augsburg, Munich) and the Empire (Vienna, Prague), the painting of the latest mannerism flourished (J. Heintz, H. von Aachen, P. Candid). The Thirty Years War (1618-48) put an end to all artistic activity. Only towards the end of the century. XVII resumed the construction activity which intensified rapidly and reached its maximum development in the period from 1700 to 1770; driving forces were the courts of Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Stuttgart, and the residences of the prince-bishops: Bamberg, Würzburg, Cologne, Münster, Spira, Mainz, Trier. At first the activity of Italian architects still prevailed, linked to late Mannerist forms; in a second phase, under the influence of Italian (Borromini and Guarini), Austrian and French architecture, the German architects created a turgid and theatrical late Baroque style (remember the Dientzenhofer of Prague and the Asams of Munich). Finally, in the Rococo phase (1730-70), foreign influences were overcome and German architects created an absolutely original style, which has no parallel in the rest of Europe. Religious architecture found its maximum expression in the monasteries and sanctuaries of Bavaria, Swabia and Franconia (Ottobeuren, Weingarten, Ochsenhausen), civil architecture triumphed in the countless princely residences scattered in the over 300 independent states of the country, headquarters of as many small courts that tried to imitate Versailles. In many cases the residences became the fulcrum of urban planning (Mannheim, Karlsruhe), other times entire cities received a new eighteenth-century face (Berlin, Dresden, Kassel). The main clients were the Wittelsbachs in the various branches of Munich (Schleissheim and Nymphenburg castles), of Cologne (Bonn residence) of Münster, of Brühl; the von Schönborn in Würzburg, Bamberg, Mainz, Gaibach, Pommersfelden, Speyer, Trier, Koblenz; the kings of Prussia in Berlin (Potsdam, Sans-Souci); the electors of Saxony in Dresden (Zwinger); i Württemberg in Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart (Neues Schloss). The major architects were B. Neumann, the Asam, the Dientzenhofer, A. Schlüter, GW Knobelsdorff, MD Pöppelmann. Equally original, and closely connected with architecture, is the sculpture in stone, polychrome wood and stucco (B. Permoser, A. Schlüter, J. Dietrich, JB Straub, JM Feichtmayr, I. Günther). The painting was less brilliant: numerous local fresco artists were active in Munich and Augusta, but in general the most important enterprises were entrusted to Italian painters (I. Amigoni, the Tiepolos, CA Carlone). They had particular importance in the century. XVIII the cabinet-making and above all the production of porcelain.


The discovery of the hard, kaolinic porcelain formula, similar to the Chinese one, actually took place in Germany between 1707 and 1709 by JF Böttger. In 1710 Augustus of Saxony founded the famous Meissen factory, the first porcelain factory in Europe, in which the painter AF Löwenfinck and the sculptor JJ Kändler distinguished themselves, author since 1731 of the famous statuettes of various subjects (lady with knight, dancing couple, lovers in conversation, masks from the Commedia dell’Arte, etc.) which were taken from all European factories. The factories in Vienna, Höchst, also had great importance (famous above all for the elegant figurines modeled by JP Melchior), Frankenthal, Nymphenburg (one of the most important European factories for the purity of the material, the refinement of the decoration of the pottery, the elegance of the figurines modeled by FA Bustelli), Ludwigsburg, Fürstenberg, Berlin, the latter founded with the intervention of many artists from Meissen and producer, among other things, of impressive table sets for Frederick the Great.

Germany Early Arts