Collection of Gothic Sculpture
The Collection of Gothic Sculptures dates from the time of Emperor Maximilian I (1459 - 1519) – Archduke Ferdinand II's great-grandfather. In the 19th century, the high-quality figures were collected and exhibited at Ambras Castle from 1880 onwards. The Tyrolean works, influenced by southern German art, are juxtaposed with sculptures from Lower Austria.
The St. George Altar is a central work, created by Sebold Bocksdorfer between 1510 and 1515 probably as a commission from Maximilian I. The emperor, who founded a brotherhood of St. George in 1493 and a St. George society in 1503, was particularly attached to the knight saint, who symbolized the ideals of the crusades and the defence against the Ottomans. The saints on the painted wings of the altar depict Catherine and Barbara as well als Christophorus and Florian, which are believed to be portraits of Maximilian’s grandsons, the later Emperors Karl V (1500 - 1558) and Ferdinand I (1503 - 1564). The St. George's Altar was originally located in the St. George's Chapel on the north western edge of the park of Ambras Castle, which was demolished in 1777.
Since 1996, the collection has been housed on the ground floor of the keep, which was built at the end of the 13th century. Together with parts of the northern wing and the chapel, the keep belongs to the medieval section of the castle. It served as a defence tower and as a safe refuge during sieges.