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had served his apprenticeship, perhaps, and accomplished and learnt a good deal in the travels of his IVanderjdhre; no doubt had already visited Cracow, had become a master, and, as the early work of his long life shows, his art was full-blown. After a stay of almost twenty years in Cracow, where he must have executed a considerable quantity of wood-carving, and applied himself also to etching, Stoss returned to Niirnberg, and appears to have worked in the studio and wood-carving shop of Michael Wohlgemut. There, if not solely responsible for the altarpiece of the parish church of Schwabach, his, no doubt, is the carved centre-piece representing our Lord and the Blessed Virgin enthroned between St. John and St. Martin of Tours. It is interesting to notice that in all Wohlgemut's altarpieces the central place of honour is of carved wood, the wings painted. Thausing, in his Life of Albert Dilrer, makes some cogent remarks with reference to the carved work which applies, in a general way, to the Franconian wood sculpture of the period. He characterizes the figures as 'slender and graceful, the faces, though uniform and round, childlike, with an innocent look characteristic of the old Cologne school: antiquated, stationary art, in glaring contrast to Wohlgemut's paintings of the sidewings.' The general arrangement, painting, and gilding of these central figures was probably superintended by the painter. It is impossible for us to know, now, how to apportion the credit for the carved work which at this period (1508) issued from Wohlgemut's establishment, as we must call it, for it had become little more than a factory. The painter concerned himself with the panels of the altarpieces alone: the carving was left to Stoss and his assistants and pupils. We shall presently return to the subject of the altarpiece of Schwabach and its connexion with the one at St. Wolfgang by Michael Pacher, an earlier work which Stoss must have known and more or less copied from.
Veit Stoss's first business at Cracow on settling there in 1477 was to undertake the carving of the great altarpiece of the Marienkirche in that town, a work which required twelve years for its completion. Considered by many as the finest of the German retables, we may take it as representative of the general arrangement of this class of work in the southern division of the empire. One of the largest and most elaborate, at least, it still, although restored and repainted, presents in essentials its original condition. As the church and this altar in particular are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, it is not surprising that the subjects should be those illustrative of her life. It is the life as we know it in the language of the Rosary, of the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries. Triptych in arrangement, the high central shrine rests on a predella carved with the gnarled and almost leafless branch
of the genealogy of the Virgin. The principal subject in the central division of the triptych gives us her death, or at least—for it is an unusual method of representing even the earlier stage of the Dormition—the last phase in her life on earth. She is in the act of gently sinking to the ground, kneeling, and supported by one of the apostles, surrounded by the others and some holy women. Above, still in the central division, is the Assumption, beneath pinnacled canopy work, and above this again, amongst elaborate architectural details, figures in niches, foliage, borders, and other ornament. The wings are carved in low relief—within, in six divisions with scenes from the life of our Lord, on the outer sides in twelve compartments with similar subjects, mostly of the Passion. On the tomb itself, in the Resurrection scene, is the monogram, or more properly the cipher, fy- of the master.
work of the tree of Jesse, bearing