Imaginative responses to gothic sculpture: The Bamberg Rider

Assaf Pinkus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The immediate and communicative presence of the Bamberg Rider stands in stark contrast to his enigmatic identity, either lacking a specific identifying attribute or possessing redundant ones, preventing the production of a single coherent meaning. This article reexamines the armor-less Rider in light of later medieval notions of the "living statue" and the symulachrum. It argues that the sculpture was intentionally devised to produce a pure simulacrum (neither an historical nor an allegorical figure) receptive to the imaginative horizons of the viewers. In encouraging intuitive, emotional, and somatic responses, the statue is no longer conceived as a representation or imago but, rather, it becomes a speculation of its viewers, a wax upon which the subjective expectations are stamped. As a res and a presence of its own, the Rider operates within a ritualistic setting, in which it is reincarnated or re-enacted, substituting for whatever reality exists in the "here and now" of its viewers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-360
Number of pages30
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • German studies and literature
  • Image and response theory
  • Late medieval art and visual culture
  • Living statues
  • Michel Velser
  • Simulacrum
  • Thomas de Bretagne
  • Tristan romance


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