Art Home | ARTH Courses | ARTH 214 Assignments

Isenheim Altarpiece

by Mathis Gothardt Neithart/ Matthias Grünewald

Isenheim Altarpiece

on display in the Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar

The altarpiece was commissioned about 1500 with the sculpture shrine being finished by 1505 and the painted panels completed by 1516.


Left wing: St. Sebastian; Middle panel: Crucifixion with Virgin and St. John the Evangelist on the left, Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Cross, and John the Baptist in the right; Right wing: St. Anthony

St. Bridget of Sweden, Revelations, 4: "The crown of thorns was impressed on his head; it was pushed down firmly covering half of his forehead, and the blood, gushing forth from the prickling of thorns, ran down in many rills over his face, hair, and beard so that it seemed like a river of blood.... The dead body sagged. The color of death spread through his flesh, and after he breathed his last human breath, his mouth gaped open so that one could see his tongue, his teeth, and the blood in his mouth. His knees then contracted bending to the side. His feet were cramped and twisted about the nails of the cross as if they were on hinges....The cramped fingers and arms were stretched out painfully." (as quoted in Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art, 2nd ed., p. 292)

First Opening

Annunciation, Angelic Concert, Madonna and Child, and Resurrection

Fully Opened

Sts Anthony and Paul the Hermit on the left panel; shrine of St. Anthony enthroned with St. Augustine on the left and St. Jerome on the right (sculpted by Nicolas Hagenau and completed by 1505); Temptation of St. Anthony on the right panel.

Detail of the Crucifixion


St. Sebastian

St. Anthony and Paul the Hermit

Temptation of St. Anthony

St. Anthony