One of the highlights of Hannover Landesmuseum is the remains of the so-called “Goldene Tafel” which once decorated the high altar of the Benedictine Abbey S. Michaelis in Lüneburg
The Golden Panel was originally a Romanesque golden antepedium. Later, this became enclosed in a retable consisting of two sets of double wings, painted by the “Master of the Golden Panel in Lüneburg” around1431 – 5. Around the Romanesque panel a number of golden reliquaries were placed. Together with the antepedium these were destroyed in 1698 by robbers, who melted it all down. Only a few reliquaries are preserved in the Museum August Kestner in Hannover.
However, the wings still exist and are housed in the Landesmuseum Hannover. The panels each measure 2.31 m x 1.84 m. The closed wings shows the Crucifixion on one side and the Brazen Serpent on the other. The insides of the outer wings and the insides of the inner wings depict 36 scenes from the Life of the Virgin and the Passion of Christ. On the inside of the inner wings were twenty carved and guilded figures of saints and prophets. For the most part these have also disappeared; although one cropped up in the art market in 2007 and was acquired by the Museum.
Since 2012 the Golden Panel has been the object of an interdisciplinary research project, sponsored by the Volkswagen Stiftung (€ 540.000), the Klosterkammer Hannover and the FAMA-Kunststiftung. In collaboration with the Gemäldegalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt and the Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst Hildesheim, conservators, art historians and historians have analyzed the altarpiece. As well as subjecting the retable to a full technical examination, the project has also explored its origin, history, style and use.
The aim of the project has been to restore the preserved parts of the retable, publicizing the results of the studies undertaken, mount a new exhibition of this precious piece of art plus organize and interdisciplinary and international conference.
Dr. Bastian Eclercy from Hannover with a historical model of the Golden Panel © Landesmuseum Hannover