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  • Bauen im reichsstädtisch-reformatorischen Heilbronn: Eine exemplarische Werkanalyse zu Hans Schweyner von Weinsberg (1473-1534)
  • Krista De Jonge
Simone Farys . Bauen im reichsstädtisch-reformatorischen Heilbronn: Eine exemplarische Werkanalyse zu Hans Schweyner von Weinsberg (1473-1534). Karlsruher Schriften zur Kunstgeschichte 4. Münster: LIT Verlag, 2004. 384 pp. + 200 b/w pls. illus. tbls. bibl. €34.90. ISBN: 3-8258-7778-7.

In spite of its lavishly bound cover, this book is in fact the author's doctoral dissertation, directed by Wolfgang Hartmann and Norbert Schneider at the University of Karlsruhe, published in an almost unaltered form. As a consequence, its contents regrettably show many traces of the intellectual horror vacui and encyclopaedic tendencies — if one may put it so — from which such dissertations often suffer. The book would have greatly benefited from a thorough editing out of overviews of, for instance, the literature on the Reformation, or the history of conservation in Germany, even if these are well done in themselves.

This criticism does not extend, however, to all the introductory pieces in the book. Its subject matter spans that difficult period between what is commonly called the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period (1470-1540): in Huizingian terms, a period of autumnal decadence, which can be likened to the overripe fruit of a tree, ready to fall; from the modern historian's point of view, the glorious springtime of the Renaissance. The author rightly stresses that this artificial contradiction — in terms of the history of art and architecture, Gothic versus Renaissance — is not very helpful for the study of architect-sculptors such as Hans Schweyner. Her discussion of the methodological pitfalls inevitably linked to a subject of this kind is both correct and necessary. The book constitutes a welcome companion to such seminal publications as Franz Bischoff's study on Burkhard Engelberg, also known as the architect of the Fugger chapel in Augsburg (Burkhard Engelberg und die süddeutsche Architektur um 1500: Anmerkungen zur sozialen Stellung und Arbeitsweise spätgotischer Steinmetzen und Werkmeister [1999]): the author in fact acknowledges Bischoff's work as a major source of inspiration. Recent scholarship has focused anew on this so-called transitional period both from the Renaissance perspective (see the studies collected by Jean Guillaume, L'invention de la Renaissance: La reception des formes "à l'antique" au début de la Renaissance [2003] and by Norbert Nussbaum, Claudia Euskirchen, and Stephan Hoppe, Wege zur Renaissance: Beobachtungen zu den Anfängen neuzeitlicher Kunstauffassung im Rheinland und den Nachbargebieten um 1500 [2003]) and from the Gothic (see Ethan Matt Kavaler, "Renaissance Gothic in the Netherlands: The Uses of Ornament," The Art Bulletin 82 [2000] and "Renaissance Gothic: Pictures of Geometry and Narratives of Ornament," Art History 29 [2006]). Kavaler ironically juxtaposes both stylistic terms to describe the new Gothic architecture of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, thus stressing the limits of their applicability. These studies may have been too recent for the author to have used them in her dissertation, since they are missing in her otherwise extensive bibliography. They certainly might have helped her to frame her conclusions in a broader architectural-historical perspective, which is now missing. [End Page 1244]

The main strength of this book lies in its careful and critical dissection of the available source material on Schweyner's life and work, both old and new, on the one hand, and its well-argued discussion of his masterpiece, the tower of Sankt Kilian in Heilbronn, on the other. The latter part is exceptionally well-documented, while the former shows an impressive grasp of the archival sources. The many detailed descriptions, which are sometimes repetitive, testify to the author's quest for precision. She has managed to reconstruct the building history in its different phases from before 1515 till 1529. She rightfully devotes many pages to the subsequent history of the Kiliansturm, so as to reconstruct its original state correctly. Indeed, architectural historians without training in building archaeology (Bauforschung) often forget that their object of study probably has gone through several restoration campaigns. Especially in the case of St. Kilian's Church, these decisively altered its appearance, even down to the details. However, the...


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