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  • Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio: Bronzeplastiker der Spätrenaissance
  • Jeffrey Chipps Smith
Dorothea Diemer . Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio: Bronzeplastiker der Spätrenaissance. 2 vols. Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2004. 420; 544 pp. index. append. illus. bibl. €248. ISBN: 3–87157–204–7.

Hubert Gerhard (ca. 1550-1620) and Carlo di Cesare del Palagio (1538-98) are hardly familiar names to most art historians. This is truly unfortunate, since individually and together these two masters created some of the most impressive bronze and terracotta sculptures in Europe during the late sixteenth century. Gerhard's oeuvre compares favorably with Adriaen de Vries's work at the imperial court and in Augsburg, or with Pompeo Leoni's bronzes for the Escorial. Now there is no excuse for not appreciating their artistic skills thanks to Dorothea Diemer. An indefatigable scholar, Diemer, is equally at home with the work of art and in the archive. She has spent much of the past three decades painstakingly studying Munich's artistic patrimony. Her new book, the culmination of these labors, is much more than a double monograph about Gerhard and Carlo. Diemer offers insightful discussions about the artistic environments at the Wittelsbach, Habsburg, and Wettin courts where her two protagonists worked.

Gerhard, a native of Hertogenbosch, was among a remarkable group of Netherlandish sculptors, including Giambologna, Willem Tetrode, Johann Gregor van der Schardt, Hans Mont, and Adriaen de Vries, who moved to Italy and pursued careers abroad. Most left the Low Countries because of the political upheavals and the iconoclasm of 1566-67. In Florence, perhaps in Giambologna's atelier, Gerhard learned or, at least, perfected his abilities to design and cast bronzes. Between 1581 and 1584, he worked for the Fuggers in Augsburg and at Schloss Kirchheim. There he first encountered Friedrich Sustris and Carlo, both Florentine-trained artists. When Sustris became the artistic superintendent for Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria (1548-1626; r. 1579-97), he lured Gerhard to [End Page 241] Munich, where the sculptor would reside from 1584 to 1597. Gerhard prepared the monumental bronze St. Michael Vanquishing Lucifer that adorns the façade of the Jesuit church of St. Michael's in Munich. With Carlo's help, he made about fifty over-life-size terracotta statues of saints and angels that line the interior of this majestic church. For the Residenz (the ducal palace) Gerhard and Carlo created large bronzes for a fountain, the grotto, and the garden. Each of these projects is meticulously documented and analyzed by Diemer. For example, the author provides an interesting discussion of the Perseus fountain, based on Sustris's designs, and its relation to Florentine models, such as Cellini's famed statue in the Loggia dei Lanzi.

With the financial crisis of 1597, which forced Wilhelm V to abdicate, Gerhard and most of the court's artists were suddenly unemployed. Between 1599 and 1613, Gerhard served Archduke Maximilian III of Austria, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, first in Bad Mergentheim and then in Innsbruck. I particularly enjoyed Diemer's comments about the differences between the Innsbruck and Munich courts. Unlike Wilhelm V, Maximilian III commissioned small-scale bronzes, including equestrian portraits and mythological statuettes, in addition to his tomb and other large projects. The pathos that characterizes Gerhard's Munich works becomes less pronounced when in Innsbruck. This somewhat unfamiliar chapter in the sculptor's career is also the subject of an excellent small book, Hubert Gerhard in Innsbruck und das Grabmal Maximilians des Deutschmeisters (Innsbruck: Studien Verlag, 2005), by the late Austrian art historian Johanna Felmayer. In 1613, Gerhard returned to Munich, where he worked until his death seven years later.

Carlo, also a master stuccoist and decorative sculptor, was kept busy at Wilhelm's court, though his position was never as secure as Gerhard's. Diemer's reconstruction of his career is a remarkable feat of detective work. After briefly returning to Florence, Carlo was employed by the electors of Saxony in Freiberg and Dresden between 1590 and 1593. The Dresden Lusthaus (pleasure pavilion) does not survive, so one must look to Freiberg to appreciate his talents. The choir of Freiberg's cathedral houses...


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pp. 241-243
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Archived 2009
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