Zwei Restauratorinnen betrachten ein Foto auf einem Laptop. Im Hintergrund ist ein Altarbild zu sehen.

Ehninger Altar

Objectives and tasks

One of the most mysterious altars in the Stuttgart State Gallery was in our Wüstenrot Foundation show studio: the Ehningen Altar. Since Easter 2023, the altar can be admired again in our collection. The art-technological examination was able to reveal some new clues for the art-historical classification and dating of the retable and to get to the bottom of the peculiarities of the Ehningen master.

Numerous preliminary carvings show a perspective realisation that is unique for the period at the end of the 15th century - in Swabia. The Ehningen Master creates a wide landscape and convincing interior representations with an opening to the outside, which are closely oriented to Dutch contemporary art, but which he complements in a new and imaginative way.

The altar was stabilised by both preventive conservation and restoration measures; however, much of the damage to the over 500-year-old altar is no longer reversible. Among other things, the picture support and painting were secured, numerous new cracks were closed and the framing was adjusted. Elaborate puttying and, in some cases, extensive retouching make the painting appear more cohesive.

Condition before restoration.
Condition after restoration.

New processing methods were used for restoration. In addition, a new research project was initiated at the Institute for Conservation Science at the Stuttgart Art Academy.

Information about the object

Title: Ehninger Altar
Dating: around 1475/80
Dimensions: Central panel 146 x 161 cm; wings each 146 x 73 cm
Technique: mixed media / fir
Inv. no.: 1125a-e
Restoration period: March 2022 – February 2023

Contact persons:

Dipl.-Rest. Kathrin Sindlinger-Maushardt
Dipl.-Rest. Anne Künzig

Methodology and procedure

A detailed examination, documentation and damage analysis of the work of art should lead to the development of a suitable restoration concept with subsequent restoration, which will make the presentation of the altar possible again, taking into account conservation aspects.

The concept will serve to preserve the substance as well as to clean the surface of the painting layer and to remove or reduce the disturbing retouching and overpainting.

A major challenge will be the complex putty and retouching work, some of which will cover large areas.

The restoration was made possible by the