The term Cologne School of Painting was first applied in the 19th century to describe old German paintings generally. It subsequently came to refer more specifically to painters who had their workshops in medieval Cologne and the lower-Rhine region from about 1300 to 1550 (Clarke and Clarke 2001; Meyer 1902–13).
Initially smaller altarpieces such as the Klaren Altar in the Cologne Cathedral from about 1360–70 were created, based on book paintings from around the year 1300 ( Zehnder 1989 , 32). The mid-15th century is the high-point of this school, when Stefan Lochner (active 1442–1451) created the Altar of the City Patrons, which is considered to be the greatest masterpiece of the Cologne School ( Zehnder 1989 , 61). A third creative period followed, under the influence of Netherlandish painters such as Rogier van der Weyden ( Zehnder 1989 , 69, 73). Rogier's influence is especially notable in the work of the outstanding representative of this final phase, the anonymous painter known as the Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece. For example, the latter's large Deposition of Christ resembles the same theme represented in the former's Escorial altarpiece, and the Master's heightened naturalism and emphasis on tear-stained features reflect Rogier's emotionalism ( Richards 2001 ).
The artists of the Cologne School include Stefan Lochner and William of Cologne, as well as a number of artists identified only by the works they created:
The Cologne painters worked mainly in the area of Old Cologne around the Schildergasse, the artists' quarter, where sign painters were also active ( Schnorrenberg 1898 ).
Stefan Lochner was a German painter working in the late "soft style" of the International Gothic. His paintings combine that era's tendency toward long flowing lines and brilliant colours with the realism, virtuoso surface textures and innovative iconography of the early Northern Renaissance. Based in Cologne, a commercial and artistic hub of northern Europe, Lochner was one of the most important German painters before Albrecht Dürer. Extant works include single-panel oil paintings, devotional polyptychs and illuminated manuscripts, which often feature fanciful and blue-winged angels. Today some thirty-seven individual panels are attributed to him with confidence.
The Master of the Life of the Virgin, in German the Meister des Marienlebens,, is the pseudonym given to a late Gothic German painter working in Cologne. He can also be known as the Master of Wilten, or Johann van Duyren, an identification not universally accepted.
The Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece was an Early Netherlandish painter active in Germany, mostly Cologne, between 1475/1480 and 1510. Despite his anonymity, he is one of the most recognizable artists of the early Renaissance period in German art.
The Historical Archive of the City of Cologne is the municipal archive of Cologne, Germany. It ranks among the largest communal archives in Europe.
Cologne Charterhouse was a Carthusian monastery or charterhouse established in the Severinsviertel district, in the present Altstadt-Süd, of Cologne, Germany. Founded in 1334, the monastery developed into the largest charterhouse in Germany until it was forcibly dissolved in 1794 by the invading French Revolutionary troops. The building complex was then neglected until World War II, when it was mostly destroyed. The present building complex is very largely a post-war reconstruction. Since 1928 the Carthusian church, dedicated to Saint Barbara, has belonged to the Protestant congregation of Cologne.
Meister or Master Gerhard was the first master mason of Cologne Cathedral. He was also known as Gerhard von Rile or by the Latin version of his name, Meister Gerardus.
William of Cologne was a medieval German painter active in Cologne and recorded in city charters between 1370 and 1390. He is regarded as the foremost artist of the Cologne School. No paintings can be attributed securely to him by him, though his name is used as a collective term for a series of altarpieces from late in the fourteenth century, whose main qualities are ardent piety and delicate grace, particularly in the characteristics of the female figures. Their formal aspects, however, remain within the prevailing Gothic style. Images of this kind may be found in museums and various churches in Cologne, Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin, and there is a plaque to him in the Walhalla temple.
Juno and Argus is a 1610 painting by Peter Paul Rubens, showing Juno and Argus. It is now in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne.
The notname Master of the Aachen Altar is given to an anonymous late gothic painter active in Cologne between 1495 and 1520 or 1480 and 1520, named for his master work, the Aachen Altar triptych owned by the Aachen Cathedral Treasury. Along with the Master of St Severin and the Master of the legend of St. Ursula he is part of a group of painters who were active in Cologne at the beginning of the sixteenth century and were Cologne's last significant practitioners of late gothic painting.
Ferdinand Franz Wallraf was a German botanist, mathematician, theologian, collector and Roman Catholic priest. His collection formed the founding nucleus of the Wallraf–Richartz Museum.
Johann Anton Alban Ramboux was a German painter and lithographer.
Hans Hirtz or Hirtze was a German painter of the late Gothic period, recognized as a major painter by art historians as early as the 16th century. He was active between 1421 and 1463 in Strasbourg and other areas of the Upper Rhine. His years of birth and death are unknown, though a reference to his widow in a document of 1466 shows he died before that date - the document shows that she remarried to the Strasbourg stained-glass artist Peter Hemmel.
The Master of the Karlsruhe Passion is the notname of a German painter of the late Gothic period active in the Upper Rhine. Very influential on other painters in the region, he may be identified with the Strasbourg painter Hans Hirtz. He is named after his main work, the Karlsruhe Passion, though he may also have been the artist behind the murals in the former Dominican church in Strasbourg, only known through two 17th century copies.
The Dombild Altarpiece is a painted triptych by the German artist Stephan Lochner. Originally painted for the council-chapel St. Maria in Jerusalem in Cologne, it was moved to Cologne Cathedral in 1810 and is now in that church's Marienkapelle, south of the choir. It is also known as the Three Kings Altarpiece (Dreikönigsaltar) and the Patron Saints of Cologne Altarpiece.
The Master of the Holy Kinship the Younger is a German painter of the Middle Ages who was active between 1475 and 1515 in Cologne and its environs. He is designated "The Younger" to distinguish him from another Master, given the same name, who worked in that area from 1410 to 1440.
Johann Heinrich Richartz was a German businessman and patron of the arts, best known as the main funder of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
St. Kolumba was one of the largest parish churches in medieval Cologne, dating back to 980, and dedicated to Columba of Sens. The original Romanesque church was replaced by a Gothic church. Artworks in it included the Saint Columba Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden, and an altar by an anonymous artist.
The Master of the Wasservass Calvary is the notname for a painter active in Cologne between 1415 and 1435. He is relatively unusual in Cologne art of his time, owing more to Burgundian manuscript illuminating and Early Netherlandish painting of the time.
Bodo Balthasar von Dewitz was a German art historian. His work focused on historical photography.
Simon Meister was a German painter.