Franconia or Bohemia, second quarter of 14th century
Lindenwood with original paint and gilding, height 96 cm
Provenance: Konrad Nolte Collection, Delbrück.
The Madonna and Child is probably Franconian or Bohemian and was strongly influenced by French sculpture. Dr. Markus Hörsch also expresses this oppinion in his expertise by stressing the French influence referring to two stone sculptures that were created around 1340/50 in Franconia (Ursulinenkloster, Würzburg and the house Madonna, Nordheim/Main, previously in Würzburg).
However, stylistically, the chubby faces of the Madonna and Child point more towards Prague. For this reason a Bohemian provenance would certainly be plausible.
Elisabeth of Bohemia
An imminent changeover of power in Prague
The Přemyslids have ruled Bohemia since the late 9th century. The last Přemyslid is Elisabeth who marries John of Luxembourg in Speyer in 1310. When she dies in 1330 the dynasty becomes extinct. Queen Elisabeth’s final resting place is in the family tomb in Zbraslav Abbey in Prague
The ‘Rome of the North’
When our Madonna and Child figure was created a new formal artistic language, the so-called ‘Soft Style’ – also known as International Gothic – was spreading across Europe. Typical stylistic elements in sculpture include an increasing three-dimensionality and the graceful and delightfully executed faces of the Madonna. How does such a development evolve? One reason was the appointment of Charles IV from the House of Luxembourg as Holy Roman Emperor. Charles grew up at court in Louvre Palace in Paris as a highly sophisticated young man. In 1364 the extremely polyglot Luxembourger, who spoke French, Italian, German and Czech, is elected Holy Roman Emperor. The seat of power is Prague. The emperor aims at turning the capital of Bohemia into the centre of art in Central Europe. From this time onwards, famous artists take the major west-east trading routes to Bohemia. Cities and whole regions that lie along these routes benefit from the artistic and cultural interchange. A formal artistic language takes shape and the style becomes more international.
The Golden Road
Mobility in the Middle Ages
For Emperor Charles IV a link between his Bohemian territories and his homeland in Luxembourg via the imperial cities of Nuremberg and Frankfurt is paramount. Ever since the 13th century the so-called Golden Road has served as the most important trading route between Nuremberg and Prague. Charles IV extends the existing route as far as Luxembourg and declares it an Imperial Road. Incidentally, the stone bridges in Frankfurt (1276) and Regensburg (1135) that enable the rivers Main and Danube to be crossed play a decisive role and attract merchants to these cities.
Rise of a Centre of Learning
Emperor Charles IV attracts thinkers to Prague
Thanks to the bull of Pope Clement VI and the charter drawn up by Charles, King of Bohemia, Carl University in Prague is founded, the oldest university in Central Europe. Modelled on the University of Paris it is divided into four faculties – theology, law, medicine and philosophy.
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