A pan-European art trade in the late middle ages: Isotopic evidence on the master of Rimini enigma - BRGM - Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières Access content directly
Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2022

A pan-European art trade in the late middle ages: Isotopic evidence on the master of Rimini enigma

Abstract

The identity of artists and localisation of workshops are rarely known with certainty before the mid-15 th century. We investigated the material used by one of the most prolific and enigmatic medieval sculptors, the Master of the Rimini Altarpiece or Master of Rimini, active around 1420-40. The isotope fingerprints (Sr, S and O) of a representative corpus of masterpieces but also minor artworks, attributed to the Master of Rimini and his workshop, are virtually identical, demonstrating the unity of the corpus and a material evidence behind the stylistic and iconographic ascriptions. The material used is exclusively Franconian (N-Bavarian) alabaster, 600 km distant from the supposed zone of activity of the Master of Rimini workshop according to recent literature. The same material was later used by the prominent Late Medieval German carver Tilman Riemenschneider, active in Wu ¨rzburg after 1483, whose small corpus of alabaster sculptures we have been able to characterize almost entirely. Based on these findings, we propose here an alternative to the prevailing hypothesis of a Flemish or N-French workshop being founded on similarities of the Rimini sculpture with motives in Flemish and French painting. Our scenario, returning to the initial proposal of a German localisation of the Master of Rimini workshop, assumes the migration of an artist, perhaps trained in the Low Countries or strongly inspired by the Flemish art, to Southern Germany where he founded a highly productive export workshop, well situated on the crossroads of medieval trade, with a pan-European radiance. This study sheds a spotlight on the on the trade networks of luxury goods, the raw material used for their production, and the high-end art market in Europe as well as on international migration of artists and styles, at the eve of the Renaissance.

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Earth Sciences
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Dates and versions

hal-03711157 , version 1 (01-07-2022)

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Wolfram Kloppmann, Lise Leroux, Philippe Bromblet, Pierre-Yves Le Pogam, Anne Thérèse Montech, et al.. A pan-European art trade in the late middle ages: Isotopic evidence on the master of Rimini enigma. PLoS ONE, 2022, 17 (4), pp.e0265242. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0265242⟩. ⟨hal-03711157⟩
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