Prof. Dr. Joachim Poeschke
Director of the Institute for History of Art
Münster University (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
The art historical investigation will be combined with the planned studies of the polychromy of the sculptures and the research of the section of building archaeology. The results of these three projects will establish a new and more reliable basis to deal with those art historical problems surrounding Naumburg Cathedral which have been discussed controversially up to the present day.
These problems concern the function and the interpretation of the sculptural ensemble as well as its position within the context of Europe’s cultural history and the history of art. One can divide them into three groups: the artistic profile of the Naumburg Master and his workshop, the statues of the founders, and the west rood screen and its reliefs. A fourth issue, which in recent research has been only touched upon marginally, is the investigation of the sculptures’ polychromy. At the beginning, and in addition to dealing with these issues, it is necessary to look into the current state of research and to review critically the bibliography, especially focussing on the increasingly ideological view of the Naumburg Master and his works between 1914 and 1945.
Two PhD projects are planned within the history of art section. The first dissertation will focus on the statues of the founders and their position within medieval sculpture. The second will investigate the west rood screen. The results of the study of the Naumburg masterpieces must be interpreted and evaluated not only in a regional art historical and historical context, but, due to their importance, within a wider European art historical and cultural context. Within this, the project also plans to contribute to the research of the transfer of art and culture from France to Germany in the 13th century.
Peter Bömer: The West Choir Screen in Naumburg Cathedral and its Sculptural Works. Studies on the History of Form and Function
Following an introduction and remarks regarding methodology and the history of research on the west choir screen, the initial emphasis of the dissertation is a consideration of the vocabulary of forms and the iconography of the choir screen sculptures. In addition to the imagery used in the depiction of the Passion of Christ, the discussion centres on the special characteristics of the narrative style. The quality and uniqueness of the Naumburg sculptures make them stand out particularly clearly in relation to comparable contemporary choir screen compositions and sculptural ensembles, revealing the unmistakable hand and the intellectual “signature” of the Naumburg Master. Direct preconditions for the evolution of forms are manifest above all in the sculptures of the Mainz west choir screen and in Reims Cathedral. Current research probably correctly assumes that the Naumburg west choir was constructed in the 1240s; furthermore, from the perspective of Naumburg a contemporary reference to numerous works (large sculptures, reliefs, floral architectural details) from the west façade of Reims is apparent. Thus the late date assigned to the latter by Peter Kurmann needs to be reassessed in the establishment of a logical chronological sequence for these works.
The dissertation’s second emphasis concerns investigations of the use and significance of the west choir screen. Since only a meagre amount of information has survived regarding the liturgy of the Naumburg Cathedral in the High Middle Ages, general liturgical and theological sources up to the 13th century are consulted here. The architectural layout in Naumburg offers further important points of reference. The function-oriented identification of the specific building type of east or west choir and of east or west choir screen focuses on the possible use-profile, in view of liturgical practices and in comparison to sites that are documented in historic sources. The size and modernity of the west choir in the 13th century, the ceremonial entering and exiting through the large central portal of the west choir screen (practically at ground level) as prescribed by the liturgy, and research in historic sources regarding the orientation of the reading and its addressees in the context of the ceremonious staging of the Gospel readings from the choir screen gallery all suggest that the west choir served (among other things) as the location for celebrating mass on the occasion of major church observances. The prevalent opinion that the rood altar was a lay altar already in the 13th century and the idea that the Holy Scripture was read from the choir screen gallery to a lay congregation gathered in the nave during the celebration of mass in the west choir are not sustainable historically for the 13th century; these are incorrect generalizations and a transferral of the customs of later centuries to an earlier period.
Sabine Treude: Commemoration of founders in 12th to 14th century statues in France and Germany
Even after the Saxony-Anhalt State Exhibition “The Naumburg Master. Sculptor and Architect in the Europe of Cathedrals”, the statues of the founders in the west choir of Naumburg Cathedral remain a matter of discussion. Up till now the central question of how the commemoration of the founders came to take such a monumental form has not been given adequate attention in research work.
Proceeding from the current positions in commemoration research and a review of the development of monumental representations of founders in painting and sculpture, Sabine Treude investigates in-the-round founder statues located in church interiors and on portals in German-speaking regions and in France, from their initial appearance already in the middle of the 12th century up to the cycles of statues from the 13th and 14th centuries responding to the Naumburg figures. The study focuses in particular on questions about the identity of the persons depicted and on the form, style and location of the statues as well as on the issue of commissioner and recipient. A critical analysis of the extensive literature and of the sources relating to the liturgical and historical context is indispensable – with the aim of coming a step closer to an understanding of the significance of medieval founder statues.
Prof. Dr. Joachim Poeschke
Sabine Treude | Peter Bömer
West choir | Statues of founders Gerburg, Konrad, Hermann and Reglindis
West choir | Statues of founders Ekkehard and Uta
West rood screen, eastern side
West rood screen, western side
Crucifixion, portal of the west rood screen | photographer: Jelca Kollatsch for VolkswagenFoundation
Capitals of west rood screen, eastern side
Cathedral of Reims | West portal