A new look at the "Master of Elsloo"
In 1940 the art historian J.J.M. Timmers introduced the name ‘Master of Elsloo' to describe the anonymous creator of a late-Gothic wooden statue of the Virgin and Child in St Augustine's Church in Elsloo, a town in Limburg in the present-day Netherlands. In the following decades many other stylistically-related statues came to be associated with the St Anne. As a result, the Master of Elsloo's oeuvre grew to include at least two hundred works. Until recently, studies of these sculptures and their maker(s) have been almost exclusively stylistic in approach. Yet the works of the ‘Master of Elsloo' evoke many questions that require thorough investigation. Questions about the identity of the woodcarver or, more likely, the woodcarvers grouped under the sobriquet of ‘Master of Elsloo', their artistic roots, their period and place of activity, and the organisation of their work in the workshop or shops.
200 sculptures considered in an interdisciplinary research
The major interdisciplinary research project carried out in 2010-2011 by the KIK-IRPA in Brussels together with partners from Belgium and other countries was intended to shed new light on this sizeable group of statues and their makers. This time stylistic study was augmented by extensive examination of the materials and techniques employed with particular emphasis on workbench marks and the remains of any original polychromy. Also extremely important was the dendrochronological analysis of a large number of sculptures, which led to surprising results regarding the origin of the wood and the relationship between the works. A number of complementary studies help to situate the ‘Master of Elsloo’ more accurately in ‘his’ historical and artistic context. The results of all these studies were presented as papers at the colloquium organised by the KIK-IRPA on 20 and 21 October 2011. A Masterly Hand. Interdisciplinary Research on the Late-Medieval Sculptor(s) Master of Elsloo in an International Perspective brings together the project’s findings, to which are added an inventory of works associated with the ‘Master of Elsloo’ and the results of new archival research.