In the footsteps of Riemenschneider - Masterpieces of German Renaissance sculpture

Prices from £2,100


10 Dec 2018 - 15 Dec 2018
Duration: 5 nights
Ref: 18RIEM
With: Dr Ulrike Ziegler


Prices from £2,100
Single Supplement: £200
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Tilman Riemenschneider was one of the greatest sculptors of the late Middle Ages. A contemporary of Albrecht Dürer in neighbouring Nürnberg, he spent most of his career in the Franconian Episcopal city of Würzburg. Born around 1460, he probably served as an apprentice in Strasbourg and Ulm, two major centres of sculptural activity at the time. After Riemenschneider acquired the status of master sculptor in 1485, his workshop rapidly grew into one of the most prolific in Germany. It received commissions from church and civic authorities alike, including sculpture created for winged polyptychs, architectural ensembles, private chapels, and secular settings. From the beginning of his career Riemenschneider demonstrated his proficiency in a variety of media, sculpting limewood, alabaster, sandstone, and marble with equal facility.

Although many of his works were painted and gilded, he was one of the first sculptors to forgo the application of colour, producing monochrome works. Riemenschneider served on the Würzburg municipal council and sided with the peasants in their unsuccessful revolt against the prince-bishop of the city, which abruptly ended his career in 1525. This short Study Tour will travel to some of Riemenschneider’s finest works still in situ, others exquisitely displayed in regional museums, spanning his entire career. We will also study works by Riemenschneider’s most important predecessors and contemporaries, such as Niclaus Gerhaert von Leiden, Michel Erhart, and Veit Stoss, allowing us to assess his achievement in a broader artistic context.


Dr Ulrike Ziegler studied art history and archaeology at the University of Regensburg and King’s College Aberdeen specialising in medieval art and architecture. Her PhD focused on art exhibitions and cultural politics of post-war Germany. She has taught at university and is now lecturing for various cultural institutions. She has organised and led many study trips in Germany and Austria. In addition to tour lecturing, Ulrike is developing Art Pursuit Abroad’s German programme.

DAY 1:

Morning flight with Lufthansa at c. 9.30 from London Heathrow to Frankfurt. Coach transfer to Würzburg. Afternoon walk past the site of Riemenschneider’s workshop to the great cathedral containing two funerary monuments of Würzburg prince-bishops, transitional works between Gothic to Renaissance.

DAY 2:

For centuries Würzburg’s bishops resided in the impregnable fortress Marienberg on the northern bank of the Main — overlooking the city on the river’s southern bank. The Mainfränkisches Museum in its former armoury has a fine collection ranging from Romanesque carvings to Rococo boiseries. Its highlights are Riemenschneider’s sandstone statues of Adam and Eve and other works by the artist in wood, stone and even papier-mâché. Back in the centre of Würzburg visit the Diocesan Museum with an eclectic collection of ecclesiastic art through the ages. Of course, no stay in Würzburg would be complete without a visit to the Baroque palace of the prince-bishops, the magnificent residence which replaced the stoney mediaeval fort — world famous for Giambattista Tiepolo’s luminous frescoes.

DAY 3:

Coach excursion to the neighbouring bishopric of Bamberg. Among the many sculptural treasures of its late Romanesque cathedral are the enigmatic 13th-century Bamberg Rider, Riemenschneider’s monumental Tomb of Emperor Henry II and Empress Kunigunde, the bishopric’s founders, and a wooden Altar of the Nativity by Riemenschneider’s great contemporary, Veit Stoss. More works by Stoss and rare liturgical vestments await in the Diocesan Museum adjacent to the cathedral. After lunch, return towards Würzburg via the little pilgrimage church of St Mary in the Vineyard at Volkach with Riemenschneider’s large limewood pendant of the Virgin in the Rosary.

DAY 4:

Coach excursion to Aschaffenburg, second residence of the bishop-electors of Mainz. The stately Renaissance Johannisburg and the Stiftsmuseum boast excellent collections from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Arguably, the greatest treasure is Lucas Cranach’s Altar of St Mary Magdalen, of c.1525, but other highlights, such as paintings by Aschaffenburg-born Brücke Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner are not to be sniffed at.

DAY 5:

Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber is almost perfectly preserved with its mediaeval town walls and half-timbered houses — almost too romantic to be true. St Jakob, the town’s Late Gothic hall church, houses Riemenschneider’s perfectly preserved Holy Blood Altarpiece. After lunch another Riemenschneider virtuoso limewood tour de force — the Assumption Altarpiece — will be waiting for us in the remote pilgrimage church of Creglingen. Near Würzburg, we will stop at Maidbronn, whose former abbey church houses a sandstone Lamentation, Riemenschneider’s final work and testimony to the tragic end of a brilliant man.

DAY 5:

The tour will conclude with a a visit to Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus, whose excellent sculpture collection houses many fine works of the late mediaeval and Renaissance periods. After lunch continue to Frankfurt airport for an afternoon flight with Lufthansa, scheduled to land at Heathrow at 4.45pm.

Please note that at this stage the programme is still provisional. Although we aim at the greatest degree of accuracy from the outset, some details, especially the order of visits, may be subject to change.


Specific fitness requirements for this Study Tour:

This tour involves a fair amount of walking mostly on level ground and well-paved streets. Museum and site visits require prolonged periods of standing without the possibility of a rest. Winter in Germany tends to be cold with a distinct possibility of snow, but most roads and pavements are well serviced and kept clear.

Please note that all our Study Tours involve a significant amount of standing and walking, often across uneven ground, over cobbled streets, or up and down steps and inclines. While we do not have an upper age limit for participants, we require you to have a level of fitness which does not spoil other participents' enjoyment of the holiday and you should be able to walk at a reasonable pace and / or stand for at least thirty minutes without aid or requiring a rest.

If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular tour is suitable for you, please ring us to check before placing your booking.


Twin/double share: £2100 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £200
Price of the tour without flights: £1960 per person
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Scheduled return flights (Economy class) with Lufthansa between London Heathrow and Frankfurt/Main
  • Transfers and excursions in Germany by private coach
  • Five nights B&B at the four-star Hotel Rebstock
  • Two dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the lecturer and a tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
  • Small group between 12 and 20 participants


  • Three dinners and five lunches
  • Transport between home and London Heathrow
  • Travel insurance. We strongly advise you to be covered by adequate travel insurance

Best Western Premier Hotel Rebstock****

Between vineyards and historical buildings you will find one of Germany's oldest hotels. Behind its landmarked rococo facade, the hotel, known as a guest house since 1408, offers individually decorated rooms and a warm, caring atmosphere. Hotel Rebstock is located in the town center, close to many points of interest such as Prince Bishops Palace, cathedrals, university, congress center and more.


  • Television
  • Radio
  • Tea and coffee making facilities
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Hair dryer
  • Minibar
  • Heating


Facilities at this hotel include a restaurant, cocktail lounge and wintergarten lounge, ideal for a spot of relaxing in this private area and a guest steam room.