'Two Angels with Candlesticks'
Carved limewood with traces of paint
Museum no. A:16-1912
That the successful sculptor Tilmann Riemenschneider was also briefly the Mayor of Wurzburg indicates his status as an artist, yet until the nineteenth century his work was obscure. But just as El Greco was rehabilitated in Spain, so was Riemenschneider in Germany. His rediscovery was a part of Germany's emerging national consciousness, but also a part of the emotional adventure that created modern art. Riemenschneider's controlled, but emphatic, expressiveness was held to represent characteristic northern angst , but he also projects great Gothic pathos. The sense of mysticism in Johann Hesse's sacred poem 'O Welt, ich muss dich lassen' (Oh World, I must leave you) can also be found in the recondite beauty of these limewood angels. It is significant that Riemenschneider's 1505 candlesticks (made for the tiny church at Wolferstetten) entered the V&A collections in 1912, at just the time Expressionism with its overt appeal to the emotions was emerging in continental Europe.
Stephen Bayley, Guest Curator