Brass of the Month

Copyright © 2012 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 04 March 2015

April 2012 – Johan von Heringen, 1505, Erfurt Cathedral, Germany

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

    When the Rev W F Creeny visited Erfurt Cathedral before 1884, he found the brass of Johan von Heringen on the floor outside the chancel gate. In 1900 it was moved to the cloister along with other brasses and slabs. This had the advantage of preserving what was left of the low relief carving on the slab, which Creeny described as 'worn away'. This monument is actually a composite one, showing the upper part of the figure in brass and the lower cut into the slab itself. The main outlines of the portion of the figure on the slab are clear but all lightly cut detail is now lacking. It also has the indent for a fifth shield in brass. The eventual disadvantage moving the monuments was their exposure to the atmospheric pollution caused by Erfurt's power plant during the period of communist rule in East Germany. Fortunately, the power plant was replaced by a gas-fired one in 1995, the pollution threat has receded and the monuments have been treated for its effects. The lesser quality of the more locally produced brasses led to greater damage to them than was sustained by the brass of Johan von Heringen, which was made by Peter Vischer the elder at Nürnberg, a hundred miles south of Erfurt. Vischer's brasses have a significantly  higher proportion of both copper and zinc than those produced in Erfurt, which contain significant levels of lead. They are also particularly striking examples of monumental brasses.


    The inscription reads from the top:

Anno d[omi]ni m.ccccc. qui[n]to die xxviii

mensis septe[m]bris decessit Ven[er]abilis et Egregius vir D[omin]us Johannes de

heringen In decret[i]s licenciatus

Hui[u]s eccl[es]ie Ca[n]tor et canonicus Cuius a[n]i[m]a requiescat In pace Ame[n]


(In the year of our Lord 1505 on the 28 September died the venerable and illustrious man Johan von Heringen a licientiate in the decrees and of this church Cantor and Canon, may whose soul rest in peace. Amen)  


Johan von Heringen was a servant of Heinrich, Count of Schwartzburg, and was regarded as a native of Mainz when he was studying in Bologna in 1473. In 1481 he was serving as dean at Nordhausen in the church of St Crucis. 1487 saw him occupying the posts of cantor and canon at  the cathedral of Erfut as described on his inscription, and described as a venerable man. His brass makes an interesting comparison with that of Eberard von Rabenstain, a canon and cantor of Bamberg cathedral, who also died in 1505 and whose brass was also the work of Peter Vischer the elder. The Bamberg example, illustrated on the same page as that at Erfurt, shows a similar figure but in semi-profile, against a similar backdrop but with a canopy consisting of foliage but not truncated at the top. All of the figure is in brass and it fills the whole area within the marginal inscription. Like Johan von Heringen, he holds a chalice but in one hand only. The other holds a book. At his feet is an achievement of arms, the charge on the shield being different from those that, as at Erfurt, occupy the four corners of the inscription. Presumably the loss of the fifth shield at Erfurt means that it is Johan von Heringen's own arms that are missing.    


References


W F Creeny, A Book of Facsimiles of Monumental Brasses on the Continent of Europe (1884), 59


Malcolm Norris, Monumental Brasses: The Memorials (1977), 114-116


G C Knod, Deutsche Studenten in Bologna (1289-1562) Biographischer Index zu den Acta nationis Germanicae universitatis Bononienses (1899).

http://de.archive.org/stream/deutschestudent00knod#page/196/mode/1up


Paul Bellendorf, Metallene Grabplatten aus Franken und Thüringen aus dem 15. bis 18. Jahrhundert (2007) http://www.opus-bayern.de/uni-bamberg/volltexte/2008/136/pdf/1_Text_klein.pdf