Hermen Rode Altarpiece in Tallinn under conservation © Hermen Rode Project

Rode Altarpiece Fetches Europa Nostra Prize

The Gothic Rode Altarpiece in Tallinn is renowned. Recent Research and Conservation Project received the Europa Nostra prize 2017

Hermen Rode (c. 1468 – 1504) was a German painter from Lübeck. Of his life, very little is known except that he lived and worked in Lübeck in Johannisstrasse, where he owned a house. Together with Bernt Notke, and Claus Berg, he dominated the art scene around the Baltic at the end of the 15th century.

For several years Herman Rode and his art have been the researched by a group of art historians and conservationist, restoring his main work, an altarpiece from Tallin. Recently – 2017 – this work was awarded an Europa Nostra prize.

The altar, which measures six metres in width and three and a half metres in height, is considered on of the grandest Late Gothic masterpieces from Northern Germany. The altarpiece is double winged with outer painted wings and more than 40 sculptures in the interior. The wings tell the stories of SS. Nicholas and Victor. In the background is a famous rendition of the walls and skyline of Lübeck.

The altarpiece is currently exhibited in the St. Nicholas Museum, but the schedule for opening follows the medieval practice. Thus, it can only be seen in its full glory three times a year. Part of the project has provided a touchscreen, which allows visitors to explore the art in details.

Although the altarpiece underwent a partial restoration by Russian conservationists at the end of the 70s, it was left in a dilapidated state, and it was not 2016 careful restoration could unveil it in all its glory.

Other prominent examples of the work of Hermen Rode are the altarpieces from St. Catherine’s Church in Lübeck, now in the Museum of St. Anna, a severely damaged triptych in Stockholm (Historical Museum) and several others from minor Swedish churches (Vansjö and Sorunda)