Bernt Notke (c. 1440 – 1509) was a German Painter and wood-carver responsible for the intricate altarpiece in Århus Cathedral, which has three positions, feast, Passion and AdventBishop Jens Iversen Lange in Århus Cathedral 1479
The Notke family originally came from Reval in Estonia and Bernt Notke may have been the son of a ship-owner, Michael Notke, who traded on Flanders. Notke may have spent his apprenticeship in the southern Netherlands, where he learned to carve, build and paint Late Medieval altarpieces.
His works, however, were taken to another level with their grandiose over-size and their effectual impact on viewers.
He is perhaps best known for his inventive Dance of Death frieze, which was painted with tempera on linen and which was later copied as a mural in Lübeck (destroyed in 1942). The Dance of Death shows 24 representatives of different social classes and professions alternating with skeletons and dancing in front of late medieval towns like Lübeck.
Another well-known piece is the altar of St. George, which was commissioned by the Swedish administrator, Sten Sture, who summoned him to Stockholm c. 1483 -7. This massive and overwhelming piece of art consisted of a number of carved life-size figures of which St. George and the Dragon and the princess with the lamb may still be admired in the Storkyrkan.
Yet another important piece is the altar in the Cathedral in Århus in Denmark, which was commissioned in 1477 by the Bishop of Århus , Jens Iversen Lange for the high altar in the Cathedral of Our Lady. Notke is attested as the carver on the bases of the carved figures in the central panel.
One of the features of the altar is that it can be folded and unfolded according to season – festive, passion and advent. A fascinating video demonstrates how this is still done.