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Title Knight
Dating 1360?
Location Schwabisch Gmund
Type of the object statue
Provenance Chor, Tympanon, Sudportal, The Holy Cross Minster (Katholische Pfarrkirche Heilig Kreuz), Schwabisch Gmund, Germany
Place of exposition Chor, Tympanon, Sudportal, The Holy Cross Minster (Katholische Pfarrkirche Heilig Kreuz), Schwabisch Gmund, Germany
Date of manufacturing um 1360
Artist Heinrich Parler (Johann Parler ?)

Standort: Schwabisch Gmund, Katholische Pfarrkirche Heilig Kreuz, Sudportal, Tympanon, Chor
Hersteller: Heinrich Parler (4), (ungesichert), Baumeister
Datierung: um 1360
Baubeginn: 1310
Sachbegriff: Relief
Gattung: Bauskulptur

HolyCrossMinster and St.Johns Church, Schwabisch Gmund

Short description of monument
The Holy Cross Minster of Schwabisch Gmund is known to be the key building of the German late gothic hall church architecture. Its master builder was Heinrich Parler I, from Cologne, the father of the Parler family of architects and sculptors. It can be assumed, that his son Peter Parler, the most prominent member of the family, later master builder of the St. Vitus Dome of Prague, participated in the construction of the minster choir.
The Minster is an elongate hall church without transepts with towerless west front, two storied choir polygon with ring of chapels in the ground floor. The structure is covered by a huge saddleback roof.
The complete sculptural inventory, especially though that of the five portals, dating from the 30s and 50s of the 14th century, plays an important role in the development of German sculpture. The authorship of the portal sculptures can be identified as that of different stonemasons from the minster workshop, showing a strong "Parler" influence in their style. Two figures, the remains of a cycle of ten prophets are probably by Heinrich Parler I himself. A detailed comparative study, examining the stylistic and technological similarities and differences, with the aim of identifying the individual hands, is in progress. A sensational aspect of the portal sculptures of Schwabisch Gmund is the large amount of polychromy which has survived over the centuries.

Das Heilig-Kreuz-Munster (offiziell: Munster zum Heiligen Kreuz, von 1761 bis 1803 Stifts- und Kollegiatkirche zu Unserer Lieben Frau; umgangssprachlich Gmunder Munster genannt) in Schwabisch Gmund ist ein ab zirka 1320 als Stadtpfarrkirche errichteter gotischer Kirchenbau mit Hallenumgangschor anstelle eines etwa 200 Jahre alteren Vorgangerbaus. Das Munster ist kunsthistorisch bedeutend als Ausgangswerk der Baumeisterfamilie Parler und als erste gro?e Hallenkirche Suddeutschlands. Es ist einer der ersten Vertreter der Deutschen Sondergotik.
The no fewer than seven workshops that operated here during the fourteenth century can be roughly divided into two groups: the earlier Parler Style (ca. 1340s), and the mature style (ca. 1351-1390). The local Annales, as well as the inscription in Prague cathedral read that "magister henrici parleri de colonia", "Parler lapicide (stonecutter)" is the architect of the church. This is the first time that the word "Parler" – originally Parlier (foreman, Middle High-German) – is used as a family name. Heinrich Parler was the father of both Peter and Johann. An entry dating to 1372 reports that Johann was also working in the church.
The north tympanum features the Passion of Christ in a vivid narrative and energetic movement; the south tympanum – the Last Judgment.
Several soldiers, fashionably dressed, approach Jesus from the right, as Judas signifies his Lord by a kiss; Peter, on the left – his hand now broken – cuts off Malchus' ear, as Christ concomitantly heals it and restores it to its place. The events are composed in a fast rhythm with no intervals between the narrative sequences; one action follows the other, and yet the distinction between the different moments remains clear: the free-standing figures are carved in the round, positioned on stage-like ramps; no one figure conceals another, making the narrative easily discernible from the spectators' level. I took this photo before the recent restorations; an iron grid now prevents photography.
The executions of the Apostles James the Greater, James the Less and Simon in the archivolts:
Although these depictions epitomize the idea of imitatio Christi, many of the eighteen martyrdoms featured do not correspond to the individual saint's vitae but, rather, reveal contemporaneous juridical punishments. Similar imagery of executions of criminals appears in legal treatises, such as in the illuminated fourteenth-century Fleurs des Chroniques, and in the Pittura infamante – effigies of shame – depicting the rituality and technicality of juridical executions and their excessive of violence. The depiction of James the Less with the axe splitting his skull, on the other hand, brings to mind the reality of the medieval battlefield. What modes of response and identification were therefore available for the viewers? Did they see in these images the martyrs or the criminals? Have they identified themselves with the role of the executioner or of the victims?

Parler lapicide
The Parlers have acquired an almost mythical status as the founders of German architecture and sculpture. However, even if one ignores the legends that have evolved around their name, they were still among the most influential artists active in the fourteenth century, from Cologne to Prague, Vienna to Milan. While romantic accounts have tended to focus on the works of Peter Parler in Prague and the naissance of German individualism, the perplexing activity of his brother Johann in the cities of southern Germany has been almost completely neglected.
Johann is first documented as Werkmeister in Basel, 1356. In 1359 he was appointed lifetime Werkmeister in Freiburg, a prestigious contract ensuring the exclusiveness of his skills to the town and preventing him from working elsewhere. There are, however, several entries of his name in the local Annales of Augsburg and Schwabisch Gmund. Fragments of his workshops' ledgers together with stylistic arguments, suggest that he was also in charge of construction sites of Ulm new parish Church (nowadays cathedral) and St. Theobald collegiate church in Thann. Operating as an entrepreneur or a contractor, he probably conducted five local workshops concurrently, an economically viable organization that enabled him to produce in a short time not only several of the most ambitious architectonic endeavors of the period, but also some of the most spectacular sculptured tympana.
The sculptural works executed under his supervision have been marginalized in the scholarly discourse for several reasons: its quasi 'mass-production' appeal did not fit the concept of "genius artist" so cherished by modernist writers; the concomitantly close similarities and dissimilarities between the various projects did not fit into the modernist evolutionary project; the expressive quality was denounced as grotesque; and the narrative impulse was considered as an insult to the connoisseur.
During the last fourteen years I have attempted to construct and deconstruct the figure of Johann Parler as the agent responsible for the production, supervision, and communication of these sculptured tympana. I have investigated their narrative structure, art patronage and reception, as well as modes of spectatorship and voyeurism. In the following online exhibition I hope to introduce to the non-German audience some of the stimulating peculiarities of this sculpture – and its beauty.

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