Thursday, November 12, 2015

Being a Nurembergian

Several times over the past couple weeks, I have gone to Nuremberg from our home base in The Reuth.  Nuremberg is a bustling city with LOTS to see and take in!  Corine and Volker have done quite a bit of research about Nuremberg, so they are the perfect guides to get the most out of my days here.
Pegnitz River in Nuremberg at dusk

Day 1 (Wednesday 4 November):

On Wednesday, all three of us took the train into Nuremberg.  Volker had set up an appointment at St. Sebald to look in the sacristy (where they keep the valuable goodies) of the church.  So Corine led us to St. Sebald (one of the biggest churches in Nuremberg), and we were shown up a tiny medieval staircase to the upper sacristy.  It was a pretty small room, but there was a large chest with shallow drawers containing liturgical textiles!  One of the textiles in the chest was a fifteenth-century tapestry, and it was awesome!  I was able to look as closely as I could, and even to flip it over to see the backside.  Often one can tell more about a textile's construction from looking at the back... We got to spend some quality time with the tapestry, and even peek out at the church from a super secret sacristy window!
Little staircase up to the sacristy
Corine and I investigating the back-side of the antependium
That little balconette is a window from the sacristy, and we got to stand
in there and look down at the church from those windows!
St. Sebald, Nuremberg
Then we had lunch in a cafe that is partially built into the ruins of the medieval women's monastery, St. Katherine's.  The monastery was mostly destroyed in WWII, but what still stands has been incorporated into part of a library and this cafe.  It was delicious, and we ate lunch in a fall-leaf-filled cloister garden!  It doesn't get any better than that!
Volker and Corine at the cafe in St. Katherine's cloister garden

St. Katherine's cloister garden
The ruins of St. Katherine's church, destroyed in WWII
After lunch, we went to the library and combed through the stacks for museum catalogs and such before heading to the museum.  The main museum here is the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, and it's huge and has a great collection of medieval and Renaissance art!  We scoped out the relevant exhibitions at the museum, and headed home after our long and exciting day.

Day 2 (Thursday 5 November):

Since Corine has been battling a cough that won't quit, Volker and I let her rest at the Reuth while we took Nuremberg by storm.  Volker helped me navigate my way through negotiating a photography permit (you have to have a special permit to use a tripod) for the museum.  We explained that I am a doctoral art history student and needed photos of the textiles for my dissertation research, and I was granted a special permit! Woop!

So Volker set up in the library and I set about taking photos at the museum.  Because the room was so dark, each photo took around 30 seconds.  Volker has me all set up with my fancy camera so that it takes three photos every time I click it-- one under-exposed, one regular, and one over-exposed.  Then you layer all three afterward to get the maximum depth and detail.  Very sophisticated stuff.  Anyway, the photos are AWESOME!!!  I was practically drooling over the amount of detail I can see in the macro-lens images!
Last Judgment Tapestry-- Virgin Mary
Last Judgment Tapestry-- St. John

Last Judgment Tapestry-- Detail of Mary
Antependium Tapestry with Mary and Dominican Saints-- Detail
We also ate pretzels and ice cream, drank coffee on the main market square, and peeked our heads into another famous Nuremberg church, St. Lorenz.  But we would visit St. Lorenz once Corine was well enough to lead us through because she basically knows everything there is to know about St. Lorenz and its art/architecture.

Day 3 (Friday 6 November):

And then I explored Nuremberg solo for a day!  The woman at the museum who granted me special photo permissions the day before wasn't there, though!  So I had to explain that I had been given permission the day before and that I am an art history doctoral student.  I did the whole exchange in German, and felt very proud of myself because it all worked out and they let me take my tripod in again.  Success!  So I took a million more photos, and then ate lunch at the cafe in St. Katherine's again.  After I finished taking all my research photos, I went back to the museum to just look at all the other medieval collections.  At the end of the day, I spent another hour looking through museum catalogs in the library before heading back to the Reuth.

Day 4 (Sunday 6 November):

On Sunday, we went back to Nuremberg to explore another parish church, St. Lorenz.  St. Lorenz is the church in Nuremberg that Corine has researched the most, and so she was the perfect guide!  Talk about a church that is so full of awe-inspiring sculpture, stained glass, altarpieces, epitaphs, and panel paintings!  It was so cool to see Corine explain so much of the artwork that I have seen in her publications.  We even made a new discovery regarding one relief sculpture of a female saint that had not been properly identified.  Yay, art history!!!
St. Lorenz, Nuremberg
Corine and I art historying about this Adam Kraft relief sculpture
Just hanging out in a choir stall at St. Lorenz
Me with Adam Kraft!  Here is a self portrait in stone of the sculptor that
Corine has done lots of research about!
Day 5 (Thursday 12 November):

We went back to Nuremberg today to film Corine's introduction to another video for their Geese Book project.  She had to record herself saying a few sentences about the Feast of the Holy Lance and Nails in Nuremberg while standing in front of the Frauenkirche on the market square.  She was a rock star and Volker did all the recording.  I got to do the clap at the beginning to sync sound and video, plus I'm basically the creative director now.  ;)

We also went through a small exhibition of fifteenth-century manuscripts at the Staatsbibliothek, which included one of my all-time favorite manuscripts!  It is called the Toss Sisterbook because it records the lives and times of Dominican nuns at the monastery in Toss.  The one in this exhibition was copied and illuminated in the Dominican convent in Nuremberg (St. Katherine's) by the nuns there.  Barbara Gewichtmacherin (who is credited with copying and illuminating this particular book) was the main scribe and illuminator there during the 15th century, but they had a very prolific scriptorium in general as well.

Toss Sister-Book, Copied and Illuminated in St. Katherine's in Nuremberg


Several great days in Nuremberg over the past couple weeks!!  Nuremberg is an incredible medieval city, with great museums and libraries and churches!  Having the best guides available for the city doesn't hurt either! ;)  We will go back to Corine's house in Hausen tomorrow for a couple days before I head off to Sweden on the 15th!

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