Bergheim Altarpiece

Like those of Schongauer, many engravings by Albrecht Dürer served as models for artists who reproduced them using various materials. The Bergheim Altarpiece is one of the best examples of the dissemination of engraved models. This work is attributed to Veit Wagner, a sculptor active in the Strasbourg region between 1492 and 1510. For the chapel of Bergheim near Colmar, he created an altarpiece, drawing inspiration from engravings. Veit Wagner’s Saint George Slaying the Dragon, his Annunciation, and his Adoration of the Shepherds are all representations after works by Dürer. There is a certain stiffness in the execution, indicating that the artist had some difficulty transposing the engraved model into sculpted form. However, considerable effort was focused on the rendering of dimensions and the layering of planes to create a convincing visual effect of perspective. Alongside these three panels, Wagner added a fourth representing a hermit at prayer, perhaps Saint Onuphrius.

When closed, the altarpiece presented to the faithful two painted panels showing the figures of John the Baptist and John the Apostle.

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