Michel Erhart, The Virgin of Mercy, c. 1480- 90, limewood, Staatliche Museen, Berlin.
Made from Limewood, a material commonly used by German Renaissance sculptors, this work displays the mastery of its creator.
Unlike stone, wood is neither homogeneous nor inert and thus it is more difficult to manipulate for the creation of a piece. Limewood however, was a favourable wood for carving because of its uniform, soft and elastic structure. Still great knowledge of the material was needed in order to avoid cracking during the process of drying, swelling from the water the wood held at the time of its cutting and shrinking because of internal moves inherent in an organic material.