Nikolaus Gerhaert

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Man Meditating (Buste d'homme accoudé), an apparent self-portrait, ca. 1465

Nikolaus Gerhaert (c.1420 – 28 June 1473), also known as Nikolaus Gerhaert van Leyden, was a Dutch sculptor, although aside from his sculptures, few details are known of his life. He worked in both stone and wood.


Gerhaert is considered to be the most influential northern European sculptor of the 15th century. He was born in Leiden, Holland (present day Netherlands) sometime around 1420. Based on the location of his work, he spent most his working life in the Germanic areas of Trier, Straßburg, Baden, Konstanz, and Vienna. Much of his documented work is lost to history, but what has survived is characterized by elaborate drapery and extreme physical realism, both extraordinarily vivid and unconventional. His specialties were tombs, altarpieces and other religious pieces. Sandstone and limestone are among his most frequent mediums.

One of his most well known works currently resides in the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame in Strasbourg (Alsace, present day France). Called the Buste d'homme accoudé (circa 1465), it is an undisputed masterpiece, and is believed to be a self-portrait. Gerhaert died on 28 June 1473[1] in Wiener Neustadt (present day Austria) while working on the tomb of emperor Frederick III. Nicolaus Gerhaert was summoned to the imperial court to create this tomb after the death of his wife empress Eleanor of Portugal. The tomb was completed in 1513.


Public works attributed to Nicolaus Gerhaert are the following:

In Germany
  • Baden-Baden, parish church: Crucifix of Baden-Baden, 1467[2]
  • Berlin, Bode museum: Madonna with child, circa 1460/1470
  • Frankfurt, Liebieghaus: Two heads, a prophet and a sibylle, fragments from the portal of the Strasbourg chancellery
  • Trier, Museum am Dom Trier: Tomb of archbishop Jakob von Sierck, 1462
In Austria
In France
  • Strasbourg, Cathedral of Strasbourg, chapel on the left side of the choir: Epitaph of canon Conrad de Bussnang, 1464[3]
  • Strasbourg, Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame:
    • Head of an ottoman in turban, circa 1464
    • Meditating man, before 1467
    • Head of a man with lopsided face, red sandstone
In the United States


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Renate Kohn, 'Eine bisher unbekannte Grabinschrift des Niclas Gerhaert von Leyden', Wiener Geschichtsblätter 48 (Vienna 1993), pp. 164–70.
  2. ^ (in German) Mechtild Ohnmacht, Das Kruzifix des Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden in Baden-Baden von 1467 : Typus, Stil, Herkunft, Nachfolge, P. Lang, Francfort, Berlin, Berne, 1973, 157 p. ISBN 3-261-00868-7 (texte remanié d'une thèse, Munich, 1971).
  3. ^ (in French) Philippe Lorentz, « Nicolas Gerhaert de Leyde et le chanoine Conrad de Bussnang : au cœur d'un réseau de commanditaires », in Fabienne Joubert (dir.), L'artiste et le clerc : commandes artistiques des grands ecclésiastiques à la fin du Moyen Âge (XIVe-XVIe siècles), Presses Paris Sorbonne, 2006, p. 305-328, ISBN 9782840504382
  4. ^[bare URL]
  5. ^ Standing Virgin and Child, picture and commentary from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is one of only eight works in wood attributed to Nikolaus.

External links[edit]

Media related to Nicolaus Gerhaert van Leyden at Wikimedia Commons