Masterpieces from the Middle Ages
at the Upper Belvedere

The Belvedere’s holdings comprise internationally outstanding works of Late Gothic sculpture and panel painting that give an overview of the most significant artistic developments of the International Gothic style from c. 1400 to the early sixteenth century. The works on view in the Upper Belvedere include exquisite sculptures exemplifying the so-called ‘Beautiful style’, as well as the impressive Znaim Altarpiece and works by Conrad Laib, the Master of the Altarpiece of the Abbey of the Scots in Vienna, Rueland Frueauf the Elder, and Michael Pacher.

Medieval Art at the Upper Belvedere


The presentation starts with a sculpture gallery featuring works by the Master of Großlobming, a leading sculptor of the International Gothic style who was presumably active in Vienna around 1400. The Master of the Albrecht Altarpiece numbers among the most significant Vienna-based panel painters of the next generation, whose depiction of the Annunciation to Joachim (c. 1435–40) is a remarkably early example of a rendering of a natural light phenomenon. 


The Znaim Altarpiece, probably executed in Vienna in the 1440s and still exhibiting its original polychromy, is impressive because of its monumentality and powerful expressivity. The large-sized panel of a Crucifixion by Conrad Laib from 1449, one of the principal works by the Salzburg-based painter, is characterized by a realistic sense of detail and a drastic rendering of Christ’s Passion.


Masterpieces of the subsequent generation include panels once forming part of the famous Altarpiece of the Abbey of the Scots, the largest and most important work of Late Gothic painting in Vienna. Eventually, Michael Pacher, the great master of South Tyrol, set new standards with his perspectival views and elaborately staged scenes revealing direct references to Italian models. The presentation features paintings from Pracher’s early Altarpiece of Saint Lawrence and his later Salzburg Altarpiece, the latter of which was the largest and most costly winged altar in the Alpine region.


A prominent example of advanced contemporary woodcarving is the group of figures of The Virgin Mary and Joseph from a Nativity altarpiece (?) by Hans Klocker, who, besides Michael Pacher, numbered among the leading masters in South Tyrol. The presentation concludes with three Bishops from the Abtenau Altarpiece by Andreas Lackner. Stylistically indebted to the work of the Bavarian sculptor Hans Leinberger, these highly individual and expressive figures anticipate the new image of man propagated by the Renaissance an.


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