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Kaspar Isenmann

Altarpiece for the Collegiate Church of Saint Martin, 1465

These painted wooden panels are part of the altarpiece commissioned for the high altar of the Collegiate Church of Saint Martin in Colmar. Exceptionally, the contract for the commission of this altarpiece has survived until the present day, which means that this work may be attributed with absolute certainty. Without a doubt, therefore, it was Kaspar Isenmann whose services the canons of the church sought out in 1462. The date of completion, 1465, is shown on the back of one of the panels. The altarpiece remained in the collegiate church until 1720, when all of the individual panels were separated from the work and dispersed, before its presentation at the Musée Unterlinden at its opening in 1853. The paintings also reveal remnants of Gothic tracery, undoubtedly in gilded wood, used to frame the scenes. In the absence of these elements, it would be difficult to restore the altarpiece to its original appearance, all the more so as it certainly included multiple wings. On the theme of the Passion of Christ, the style of Isenmann’s altarpiece is representative of a period when Flemish ideas were being assimilated by German painters. This artist can be considered as a direct predecessor of Schongauer.

Kaspar Isenmann

Kaspar Isenmann, The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and The Last Supper. Panels from the altarpiece of the Collegiate Church of Saint Martin in Colmar, 1465. Oil on wood (pine), Musée Unterlinden, Colmar.

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