Michael Pacher

Michael Pacher (c. 1435 probably in mills, a hamlet in palaces, then Tyrol, † 1498 in Salzburg ) was a Tyrolean painter and sculptor. He is one of the most important masters of the Austrian late Gothic period.


The painter and sculptor equally significant Pacher led in Brunico in Val Pusteria of 1460 / 65-1495 one of the most powerful altar building places of his time. From their production two medium and two large triptychs are completely or get in major parts remained, also about two dozen individual figures and paintings, their original context, research has to date. The active as a painter, sculptor and designer of his altarpieces Master lived and worked in the last three years of life in Salzburg. About his life little is known, as only some documents, such as invoices, contracts and receipts give indirect information.

The apprenticeship Pacher may have begun in the early forties when Leonhard von Brixen. In this decade, contacts with the art of the early Renaissance in Northern Italy are on the South Tyrolean art tradition also likely. But also the south German art history ( cf. Hans Mult Schers polyptych of 1458 in Sterzing, Niclas Gerhaert van Leyden in southern Germany and Vienna) and these elements mediated by the Netherlands art of his generation synthesis of styles have been incorporated into Pacher.

The earliest known altarpiece are a small Thomas Beckett Altar ( panels in Graz) and a Marie altar with wing pictures of the Lawrence legend of 1465/66 ( parts in Brunico, Munich and Vienna). This was followed from 1470 to 1485 the Coronation of the Virgin altarpiece reduced resulting in Bolzano -Gries ( 1470/73 ), the only complete in situ residual double winged altar in St. Wolfgang (Upper Austria ) and the surviving only with the paintings Fathers altar (Munich ) for the monastery Neustift near Brixen ( 1475-83 ). Lost is a Michael altar for the parish church of Bolzano ( 1481/84 ). In the Salzburg late phase occurred up to individual pieces lost triptychs for the Franciscan Church and St. Michael's Church. The numerous wall paintings ( frescoes mainly ) from the Val Pusteria to Carinthia, which are taken for stylistically Pacher claim, neither archival secured yet been explored sufficiently. Examples include the sacristy ceiling of Neustift near Brixen, the shrine in Wels mountain or Südportaltympanon the Collegiate Church of San Candido.

The technical-economic and artistic performance of Pacher workshop and their thirty years of continuity counts on the conception, scope and quality of the highlights of the late Gothic Retabelherstellung in Europe. It is characterized by the balanced distribution of sculptures and paintings that are already taking on a central point of observation reference since the Lorenz altar by means of perspective space construction (especially Wolfgang Altar ). The detectable on the image carrier geometric construction provides the earliest adoption of the early Renaissance Italy in the art of the German-speaking countries dar. This link Pacher's room and figure compositions, the classicizing form of rigor and proportionality of the South with the fullness of expression and jewelery form the North. In his altarpieces form sculptures and panel paintings, architecture and ornaments with their sophisticated color and metal frames are a brilliant unit, shortly before their release into the individual genres of the modern image of autonomy. This synthesis of transcendental universalism of the Middle Ages with the new, immanent apprehension of reality is close to the philosophical and theological writings of the Bishop of Brixen and early humanist Nicholas of Cusa. In Pacher workshop partly known by name Master worked as an employee as the Master of Ottone, Friedrich Pacher and Marx plenty. The collaboration of Hans Pacher is controversial, Simon von Taisten was the most prolific successor as muralist. The Art Pacher has shaped the development of the Tyrolean art from the last third of the 15th century to the beginning of the Reformation.


Based on the style of the South Tyrolean champion in 1450 reached Michael Pacher under the influence of Hans Mult Schers and the northern Italian art, especially the sculptor Donatello and the painter Andrea Mantegna, to a German-speaking new imagery. Linear perspective characterizes its architecture and spatial representation. Plasticity, increased expression and speaking gesture characterize his figures. The treatment of light and shade his pictures appear realistic. Ideally, it connects -carving and painting.

We are especially famous Pacher altar works, among others:

  • Laurentius altar for St. Lorenzen in Brunico
  • St. Mary's altar for the parish church in Gries near Bolzano
  • The Gothic winged altar of St. Wolfgang in the Salzkammergut ( Pacher Altar )
  • Fathers of the Church altar for Kloster Neustift near Brixen, now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich
  • The hl. Lawrence before the Emperor Decius, part of the former high altar of the parish church of San Lorenzo in Val Pusteria (South Tyrol ), about 1465, Belvedere, Vienna

However, completely preserved only the altar of St. Wolfgang. Of the remaining works of the master only parts have survived to visit, for example, in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich or in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna. Remarkable frescoes works of the master are to be found in the Romanesque Basilica of the Benedictine monastery of St. Paul. There Pacher shows a cycle of saints in the Gothic vault, which was drafted after the fire of Romanesque flat ceiling.