St John the Evangelist thumbnail 1
St John the Evangelist thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery

St John the Evangelist

ca. 1523 (made)
Place of origin

This figure of St John originally formed part of a Crucifixion group designed as a particular type of European church epitaph. It depicted the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, flanked by his mother (the Virgin Mary) and St John the Evangelist. St John interceded on behalf of the deceased person, who was commemorated by name on an inscribed tablet, which is still in the church. Beneath the figure of St John is the coat of arms of the Lamparter von Greiffenstein family.

This type of epitaph was a speciality of Gregor Erhart of Augsburg. He was the teacher and uncle of Hans Daucher (died 1538), who made this figure.

Object details

Object type
TitleSt John the Evangelist (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Carved limestone, partly gilded
Brief description
Statuette, carved limestone, of Saint John the Evangelist, by Hans Daucher, Germany, Augsburg, ca. 1523
Physical description
St John stands on an integral rectangular sloped socle, with his head slightly inclined to his right, and his hands clasped. The mantle falls from his shoulders and then billows out. At the front of the socle and the lower part of the figure the coat of arms of the Lamparter of Greiffenstein is depicted. The arms show a quartered shield with rampant griffins against a rock in fields one and four, and in two and three two halberds crossed in saltire.The shield is surmounted by a crest, a bearded demi-man on a barred helm in his dexter hand a halberd and in his broken sinister hand was a crown surmounted by a griffin, now lost (see Siebmacher, VI,2, 1891-1911, p.177; pl. 95 for identification of the arms of the Lamparter family).The figure is carved from one piece of Solnhofen limestone. Only the helmet and the acanthus leaves of the coat of arms at the feet are polished. The back is flat and slightly hollowed out except for the head. At the back of the base is an irregular saw-cut recess made in order to fit the figure into a larger ensemble. There are traces of gilding on the coat of arms and acanthus leaves. The pupils of St John's eyes are tinted with dark-coloured paint. A section at the bottom right is broken off, including the left arm with the griffin of the demi-man in the crest, and part of the cloth. There are numerous chips on the figure. The edges of both sleeves are restored.
  • Height: 81.3cm
  • Width: 28.5cm
  • Depth: 17.2cm
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Object history
The history of this figure encapsulates the changing attitude to religious images dureng the Reformation perid. It was commissioned as part of a crucifixion group to be erected in a Nuremberg church in memory of Gregorius Lamparter von Greiffenstein, whose coat of arms are at the saint's feet. Because of fear of the spread of iconoclasm von Greiffenstein's son decided in 1524 not to place the monument in the church, although as it turned out the city of Nuremberg escaped the worst of the iconoclast destruction

Historical significance: At the time of acquisition the figure was associated with "Tylman Riemenschneider of Würzburg". Kris (1928, pp. 435-36) attributed the figure to Adolf, the father of Hans Daucher; Feuchtmayr rejected this and suggested instead Hans Daucher, since Adolf Daucher had died by 1522 (see below). Baxandall (1974, pp. 62-3, no. 16) and Eser (1996, pp. 216-19, no. 30) accepted this ascription, the latter linking the relief to Daucher's other small-scale reliefs (idem. 1996, p. 219).The figure of St John originally formed part of a crucifixion group. A Mourning Virgin (h. 84cm) and a crucifix (117cm, w. 51cm) in Solnhofen limestone which probably formed part of this monument were in the collection of Otto Josef Entres in 1868 (Entres Collection 1868, lot 3077-78, there dated to the sixteenth century); the present location of these figures is unknown. An epitaph which consisted of the Crucified Christ, the Virgin, St John, St Gregory and the kneeling Gregorius Lamparter is mentioned in a letter dated 21 August 1524 from Ritter Hans Lamparter von Greiffenstein in Augsburg to Kaspar Nützel the Elder in Nuremberg (Lieb 1952, p. 395; Staatsarchiv Nuremberg, Nürnberger Rechnungsbelege, Urkunden und Briefe, no. 245). Here Lamparter states that the epitaph he had commissioned in Augsburg for his father Dr Gregorius Lamparter (b.1463), who had died on the 28 March 1523 in Nuremberg, has been finished truly beautifully (wahrhaft schön), and that it could be sent to Nuremberg to be erected. But he went on to say that before making any decision he would like to ascertain the present situation in the city, because he had heard rumours of the spread of iconoclasm in Nuremberg. Kaspar Nützel's reply does not survive in the Staatsarchiv in Nuremberg (I am grateful to Dr. Fleischmann, Staatsarchiv Nuremberg, for this information). By 1523 overt memorials were generally out of favour in Nuremberg, as is suggested by a letter of the 9 August 1523 written by the Council of Nuremberg to the city of Magdeburg : 'Auf den achten artickel, antreffend die vigilien, seelmessen, memorien und dergleichen, ist der Bericht, das bede brobst unser pfarrkirchen zu Nurmberg ale vigilien, seelmessen, memorien und was der todten furpit und begengknus berürt abgestellt haben' (Pfeiffer 1968, p. 282) [Item number eight concerning vigils, … masses and memorials etc., we have to report that the provosts of both parish churches [St Lawrence and St Sebald] in Nuremberg have abandoned all vigils, … masses and memorials for the dead]. Moreover in 1523 an edict was issued which forbade interments within the walls of the city of Nuremberg because of the danger of epidemics (Pilz 1984, p. 66; Schleif 1990, p. 223).As a result the tomb of Gregorius Lamparter was not erected in a Nuremberg church. Schön (1898, p. 184) and Uhland (1982, p. 458) have suggested that Lamparter was interred in the Carthusian monastery of Güterstein near Urach, where his wife had been buried in 1516, but it is unlikely that his monument would have been erected in the capella dominorum (chapel of the lords), the burial site of the Dukes of Württemberg in the monastery, because in December 1516 Lamparter had broken off relations with Duke Ulrich of Württemberg. Lamparter had donated 100 guilders to this chapel in 1505 in commemoration of his deceased father and brother who were both buried there, and he himself would almost certainly wanted to have been buried in the chapel too (Necrologium Monasterii Bonilapidis , Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek Cod. Hist. 2° 421, fol. 131 (I am grateful to Roland Deigendesch, Stuttgart, who helped me with the transcription of the text). However, during his period of office as Chancellor in late 1516, he had been forced to flee Württemberg, since the Duke had accused him and other Councillors of treachery. Some were executed on the orders of the Duke, but Lamparter managed to escape to Augsburg and then to Nuremberg, where he served as adviser successively to the, Maximilian I and Charles V (Uhland 1982, p. 457-8). Lamparter's monument was eventually erected in the church of St Michael in Krumbach near Augsburg, where his son Hans was to be ennobled in 1528. On the inner north-west wall of St Michael remains a rectangular tablet in Solnhofen stone (h. 40cm; w. 90cm) which formed part of the epitaph (Sinz 1948, p. 51). Its inscription in capital letters reads:
(The eminent German treasurer Gregorius Lamparter of Greiffenstein, Doctor in law and once most erudite in mathemathics, and decorated in the Palatine campaign with the equestrian order of honour. He was in the service of three emperors, Frederick III, Maximilian, and Charles V , and on various councils and delegations to foreign kings. He was the chancellor to the Duke of Württemberg, and at the age of 65 [sic] during the Imperial Diet in Nuremberg he died. He gladly left his estate to his eight heirs and as and old and most Christian man he trusted his body to his true Lord and divided his estate on earth equally, and was buried in this place in 1523)
The type of epitaph depicting the Crucifixion flanked by the Virgin and St John with the patron saint intercessing for the deceased, who is commemorated in an inscribed tablet, is based on a scheme formulated by Hans Daucher's teacher and uncle, Gregor Erhart. This format is seen for instance in the Erhart's epitaph of Andreas Zierenberger of about 1507 (Schädler 1975, p. 78; Otto 1943, pl. 90), and in the centre group of the epitaph for Bartholomew Welser in Amberg of about 1525-30 (fig*). The physiognomy of the present figure strongly resembles that of a drawing of a portrait of a young man by Dürer, dated 1520, now in the Louvre ( fig.*), which was tentatively identified as a portrait of Hans Lamparter by Muller/Veth (1918, vol. 1, pl. 20) and Winkler (1939, no. 806). Dürer noted in his diary in Brussels in August 1520: 'Ich hab maister Conrad zu Prüssel beym licht in der nacht conterfet, der meiner herren wirth ist gewesen. Auch hab ich Doctor Lamparters sohn zu derselben zeit mit der kohl conterfet und die wirtin' (Rupprich 1956, vol. I, p. 155; Anzelewsky 1988, p. 16) ('I took a portrait at night by candlelight of Master Conrad of Brussels, who was my host; I drew at the same time Doctor Lamparter's son in charcoal, also the hostess.' Conway 1889, p.101). The dark background of the charcoal drawing in the Louvre, and the direct light shed on the sitter suggest that it was indeed drawn at night by candlelight, as described by Dürer. The date 1520, and the same facial features as found on the present figure seem to support the identification of the sitter in the drawing with 'Doctor Lamparter's son'. If this is the case our sculpture may well depict Hans (John) Lamparter in the guise of his patron saint. This was not uncommon in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: Hans Daucher for example portrayed Emperor Maximilian I as St George in a relief in Solnhofen stone of about 1522, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Eser 1996, pp. 159-65, no. 15) while Dürer depicts Stephan and Lukas Paumgartner on the wings of an altarpiece of about 1498 in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich as St George and St Eustace respectively (Anzelewski 1971, p. 157), and himself as Christ in 1500 (Koerner 1993, pp. 63-79; for disguised portraits, see also Polleross 1988, vol. 1, pp. 11-51).
Subjects depicted
This figure of St John originally formed part of a Crucifixion group designed as a particular type of European church epitaph. It depicted the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, flanked by his mother (the Virgin Mary) and St John the Evangelist. St John interceded on behalf of the deceased person, who was commemorated by name on an inscribed tablet, which is still in the church. Beneath the figure of St John is the coat of arms of the Lamparter von Greiffenstein family.

This type of epitaph was a speciality of Gregor Erhart of Augsburg. He was the teacher and uncle of Hans Daucher (died 1538), who made this figure.
Bibliographic references
  • Williamson, Paul, ed. European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996. 191p., ill. ISBN 1851771883.
  • Kris 1928, pp. 434-36, pl. 318. Gothic Sculpture 1933, fig. 15. Schmitt 1934, p. 79. Exh. London 1946, pp.69-70. Lieb 1952, pp. 218, 249, 395, 457-58. Feulner/Müller 1953, p. 324, fig 261. Müller 1958, p. 158. Baxandall 1974, pp. 62-4. Baxandall 1980, pp. 71-2, fig. 43. Schindler 1985, pp. 15-16, Bushart 1994, pp. 394-95, note 544. no. 64. Eser 1996, pp. 216-19, cat. no. 30, fig. 51. European Sculpture 1996, p.111. Exh. Baltimore/London 1997/2000, p. 190, no. 67.
  • Jopek, Norbert German Sculpture
  • Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1864 In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 70
  • Baxandall, Michael. South German Sculpture, 1480-1530. VAM, London, 1974
  • Buchner, E. and Feuchtmayer, K. (eds.). Augsburger Kunst der Spätgotik und Renaissance, 2, Augsburg, 1928, pl 318
  • Baxandall, Michael. The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany. New Haven, 1980, pp. 71-2, fig 43.
  • Bushart, Bruno. Die Fuggerkapelle bei St. Anna in Augsburg. Munich, 1994, p. 394, 95, note 544.
  • Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
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Record createdNovember 18, 2002
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