(One among many Neidhart/Nithart name bearers)

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Who was really the painter of the famous  altarpiece known as the retable d' Issenheim, now displayed  in the Unterlinden museum in Colmar, and what was his name?

Grünewald? -  Meister Mathis? -  Mathis Gothart ? - Matthis Nithart? - Mathis Gothart Nithart?

Was he an engineer specialized in hydrology, a sculptor, the owner  and operator of a mine near Sainte Marie aux Mines in les Vosges, an engineer at the salt mines of Halle in Germany, a soap maker, in addition to his talents as painter?

Is there any remote family relationship with Mathis Nithart from Eschentzwiller (one of the leaders of the farmers' uprising in 1525 in southern Alsace) or is it simply a coincidence resulting in a confusion of names and events in the Hans Stoltz's Guebweiler chronicles of the 16th century?

In a recently published book about the altar piece of Issenheim (Le maître d'Issenheim: Grünewald  by Pantxika Béguerie for the pictures and Georges Bischoff for the text- ISBN 2-203-62013-7), Professor Bischoff who teaches mainly medieval history at the Strasbourg university and is also senior lecturer at the social science University of Strasbourg, develops all these different hypothesis.

Historical/genealogical researches in Germany indicate:

On sept 1, 1528, three inhabitants of Halle notify the authorities of Frankfurt that the day before, Meister Mathis Gothard, painter or maker of hydraulic equipment died in Halle. Following correspondence refer equally to  the names of Nithard or Gothard. The inventory of his belongings shows a complete painter equipment and, among other things a certificate of coat of arms.

There is a testament (lost) of "Mathis Neithart Maler von Würzburgk" leaving a legacy to his adoptive child Endres apprentice with sculptor Rücker from Seligenstadt and five boxes to his friend Hans von Saarbrücken who hosted him.

The first reference to Mathis is a letter he addressed to the Prince of Mainz dated August 27, 1516.

Historians presume that he was born around 1470-1480, maybe in Würzburg.


One of the most elaborated study on this subject was performed by late Dr Herbert Vossberg who researched on this subjetc during 30 years.  He donated his archives to Roger Neidhart. Vossberg's theory is based on the "Nithardum Cronica". It differs from what is usually published, on the following points: 

- Nithart was born February 2, 1455 in Würzburg.

- His father was Hans Nithart (Neythart) from Ulm.

- Around period 1467 - 1475, he wa presumably doing an apprenticeship as painter in Strasbourg.

- In 1479 or 1480, he married Anne Lotz in Seligenstadt.

- In 1491, after Schongauer's death, he completed the "Breisacher Fresken".

- in 1525, was involved to un unknown extent in the farmer's uprising.

- There are still descendants of M.G.N. in Germany.

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New developments / theories  will also be included in this page if based on reputable research.


Left: Possible self-portrait of Meister Mathis  (Erlangen Universitätbibliothek)

Right: Mathis Gothart Nithart fountain in  Würzburg.

    MGN-Brunnen fontaine peintre Mathis de Roger 2.jpg (181557 octets)

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Layouts below are extracted from the referenced book:

retable9.jpg (100009 octets)retable1.jpg (125654 octets) 

retablea.jpg (87917 octets) retable2.jpg (146609 octets) retable3.jpg (146923 octets) retable4.jpg (133415 octets) 

retableb.jpg (81107 octets)  retable5.jpg (122838 octets) retable6.jpg (134786 octets)  retable7.jpg (116878 octets)  

Other paintings from Mathis Nithart:

MGN1.jpg (37711 octets)    MGN2.jpg (41547 octets)    MGN3.jpg (44698 octets)

Left: St Erasmus and Mauricius - Center: Crucifixion with Maria and Johannes - Right Deposition

Laurenti.jpg (206314 octets)

St Laurentius

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