Tags for: Riemenschneider and Late Medieval Alabaster
  • Special Exhibition

Riemenschneider and Late Medieval Alabaster

Sunday, March 26–Sunday, July 23, 2023
Location:  010 Focus Gallery
Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery

About The Exhibition

Alabaster was prized for its luster and capacity for fine details from the 14th to the 16th century particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Spain. The gleaming stone was used for altarpieces and small sculptures, as well as for the tombs of wealthy princes. Despite the rich corpus of surviving works, medieval alabaster sculpture from continental Europe has not yet been highlighted by museums in Europe and North America. The exhibition seeks to shed light on this important yet understudied topic by gathering some of the most extraordinary surviving examples of alabaster works from mainland Europe.

The core of the show is the Cleveland Museum of Art’s masterpiece by Tilman Riemenschneider, Saint Jerome and the Lion, produced for the Benedictine abbey church of Saint Peter in Erfurt, Germany, depicting a legend in which Jerome kindly removes a thorn from a lion’s paw. Our exhibition reunites Saint Jerome with another Riemenschneider work from the same church in Erfurt, the alabaster statuette The Virgin Mary of the Annunciation in the collection of the Louvre. These works are exceptionally rare, as they are two of only a few extant alabaster sculptures produced by Riemenschneider, with Saint Jerome being the only example in an American collection. One of the most prolific late Gothic sculptors, Riemenschneider is renowned for his technical virtuosity and ability to convincingly portray human emotion in his elegant sculptures of religious figures. Saint Jerome and the Louvre’s Virgin Mary are exemplary of Riemenschneider’s artistic ability, as well as the refinement that can be achieved with alabaster by virtue of the medium’s softness. 

The majority of the objects in the exhibition come from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art and allow insight into the production of alabaster sculptures in this period. It is striking that these works are of such a particularly exquisite quality and that the material was used especially for high-ranking commissions, such as the tomb of Duke Philip the Bold of Burgundy in Champmol near Dijon. A few loans from North American museums complement the exhibition.


Riemenschneider and Late Medieval Alabaster is made possible with support from an anonymous donor.

All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Principal annual support is provided by Michael Frank and the late Pat Snyder and by the late Roy L. Williams. Major annual support is provided by the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous donor, the late Dick Blum and Harriet Warm, Gary and Katy Brahler, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, Dr. Ben and Julia Brouhard, Brenda and Marshall Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., Richard and Dian Disantis, the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., Leigh and Andy Fabens, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Carl T. Jagatich, Cathy Lincoln, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Carl and Lu Anne Morrison, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, William J. and Katherine T. O’Neill, Henry Ott-Hansen, Michael and Cindy Resch, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Margaret and Loyal Wilson, and Claudia C. Woods and David A. Osage.

The exhibition catalogue for Riemenschneider and Late Medieval Alabaster was made possible with support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.