The Devil at Isenheim: Reflections of Popular Belief in Grunewald's Altarpiece

The Devil at Isenheim: Reflections of Popular Belief in Grunewald's Altarpiece

by Ruth Mellinkoff
     
 

Matthias Grünwald's world-famous Isenheim Altarpiece ranks among the most powerful expressionistic works of the Northern Renaissance. Characterized by great emotional force, exquisite handling of color and brilliantly interwoven subtleties of Christian iconography, the multi-paneled altarpiece has remained the object of intense scholarly interest and the main

Overview

Matthias Grünwald's world-famous Isenheim Altarpiece ranks among the most powerful expressionistic works of the Northern Renaissance. Characterized by great emotional force, exquisite handling of color and brilliantly interwoven subtleties of Christian iconography, the multi-paneled altarpiece has remained the object of intense scholarly interest and the main attraction of the Musée d'Unterlinden in Colmar, France.

Ruth Mellinkoff offers an original analysis of the altarpiece, uncovering the late medieval popular beliefs that underlie its unusual visual content. She places its rich imagery within a tradition of Christian art, and stunningly, discovers Lucifer among the angels observing the Nativity.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here is a convincing new iconographic reading of Mathias Grunewald's masterpiece, ``The Isenheim Altarpiece,'' commissioned for the Antonite monastery near Colmar, Germany, before 1510. Mellinkoff identifies Satan amid the angels in the nativity scene and deciphers the meaning of other enigmatic details--the chamber pot, the belted bed, the oil cruet--through comparison with late medieval written sources and art works. As she demonstrates, these many details fit into a complex program dramatizing Christian salvation. An essay in book form, the brief text is abundantly illustrated with handsome color and black-and-white reproductions of the multi-part altar and related works. For specialized collections; this study launches a series devoted to examining individual works of art.-- Annette Melville, Research Libraries Group, Mountain View, Cal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520062047
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
12/21/1988
Series:
Discovery Series, #1
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
100
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 12.25(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Mellinkoff is Research Associate at the University of California's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and she is the author of The Mark of Cain (California, 1981) and The Horned Moses in Medieval Art and Thought (California, 1970).

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