It is usually assumed that the great artists of the Middle Ages are anonymous to us. Art historians are often compelled to give these creators of images, sculptures and cathedrals so-called notnamen or 'names of convenience', such as the 'Master of Cabestany' or the 'Naumburg Master', to name but two of hundreds.
Recent research has filled some gaps in the anonymity of these medieval masters. Especially in painting and manuscript illumination, hidden references can occassionally be found.
Sculptors also remained anonymous, especially up until the High Middle Ages. There is a famous twelfth-century inscription in the western tympanum of the Cathedral of St. Lazare in Autun, however, with which a Gislebertus pointed out that "Gislebertus hoc fecit". Yet, it is unclear whether Gislebertus was the tympanum's sculptor or its patron.
During the later Middle Ages, artists slowly became less restrained. Numerous masters have immortalized themselves in churches, often through self-portraits. One of the most beautiful of these can be found in the St. Lorenz church in Nuremberg: with his tools, and in the company of his assistants, the stern looking master Adam Kraft points towards a tabernacle created by him in the 15th century .
Translation: Erik Eising (MA)