Niklaus Manuel

Switzerland • 1484−1530

Niklaus Manuel, nicknamed Doetsch (Deutsch) (it. Niklaus Manuel Deutsch) (presumably 1484, Bern — April 28, 1530, Bern) was a Swiss dramaturg, painter, graphic artist, reformer and statesman.

His style of the painter and Woodcarver, the influence of the Renaissance and Albrecht dürer. Along with Holbein it was the most important representative of the Renaissance in Switzerland. He created sketches for goldsmiths, altars, portraits and other paintings. It saturated the colors of the paintings depict mainly mythological and biblical scenes.

After his marriage to Teresa Rising (1509) he took as family name the surname of her father, Emanuel Allemann, pharmacist from Chieri, Piedmont, and kept the German translation of his name only in the monogram: the dagger under the initials N. M. D.

From 1512 he was a member of the Great Council, and for several years participating in the Italian campaigns as a Landsknecht. Upon returning to Bern, he begins the creative activity, and in 1522 joined the army of Albrecht von Stein. After a wound in the arm at the siege of Novara and participation in the lost battle of La Bekok he finally returned to Switzerland. In 1523, becoming namestnikom in Erlach, he was thrown into political, diplomatic and religious strife and gradually leaves your painting. In 1528 he enters the Small Council. Due to the lack of documents prior to his marriage contract, we know nothing about his art education, but perhaps his training which was very General. About 1508 he created the first known works: a few drawings and paintings on glass for military scenes in the manner of URSA Count (Basel Art Museum). Financial difficulties of the initial period forced the artist to take any orders. He paints the vault of the choir in the Bernese Cathedral, creates the famous "Dance of the dead" in the Dominican monastery, known only bad copies of Albrecht Kauwa (1649, Bern Historical Museum).

Works created in 1515-1516, open the most fruitful stage of his short artistic career. Creative and sensitive poet, he suffered from insufficiency of his education and was never truly independent. However, he gradually moves away from the use of different techniques and begins to work in a single style. His first works he performed in a manner similar expressive Gothic Hans Vries ("SV. Luke painting the Madonna" on the back - "Mary Christmas", Bern, Art Museum). Composition, color, transfer of space reminiscent of the manner Vries, but instead of the traditional carved decor Manuel introduces Italian motifs (putti, winged heads, garlands), becoming a kind of innovator. As Hans Leia, over the years, the landscape takes on increasing importance in the work of Manuel: the combination of realism and fantasy in the painting of "Pyramus and Tisbe" (Basel Art Museum) made poetry a freshness of tempera. His landscapes convey the atmosphere rather than the topography. Space, details and even characters in awkward poses nuanced chiaroscuro, at once gentle and wild. However, the awkwardness of the artist in perspective gives his work a character of the tapestries, particularly striking in the painting "judgement of Paris" (Basel, Kunstmuseum), where decorative flat background of dark foliage, stand out bright and colored shapes of the first plan. The undisputed masterpiece of the artist is the painting "the Execution of John the Baptist" (C. 1520, Basel, Museum). Natural night atmosphere full of bloody flashes corresponds to the dramatic tension of the scene. Manuel reaches of spirituality dürer or grünewald. An important place in the works of Manuel is the figures inspired by dürer and Baldung, especially the drawings on religious and Renaissance themes, figures of ordinary people and soldiers, landscapes, sketches from nature, executed with great freedom and humor, sometimes resembling a casual calligraphy URSA Graph. Of his woodcuts preserved only the series of illustrations to the parable of the "virgins wise and foolish" (CA. 1518, Basel, Museum). About 1522 Manuel almost leave the painting and is totally dedicated to poetry, gained fame as an ardent advocate and passionate promoter of the reformation ("the Pope and his clergy" carnival morality, played in 1522; satire "Richard Malis - salesman of indulgences"). Most likely, the Protestant iconoclasm influenced his decision to leave the painting was the reason for his anguish, as seen in "the complaint of the poor idols, expelled from the churches and chapels and burned" - the work that expresses one of the many contradictions of the era of violence and poetry, torn between the moral and aesthetic heritage of the Gothic and the Renaissance, painful transition from one time to another, heroically incarnated by Hans LEU, URS Count and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch.

Go to biography


View all publications


All exhibitions of the artist
View all artist's artworks
Whole feed