The German sculptor Ignaz Günther was born at Altmannstein (Oberpfalz). He learned sculpture from his father, a cabinetmaker and wood-sculptor. In 1743 he went to Munich, where he entered the workshop of the court sculptor Johann Baptist Straub. From 1750 he moved around southern Germany and Austria, working in Salzburg, in Mannheim with the sculptor Paul Egell, and in Vienna, where he came under the influence of Donner. Returning to Munich in 1754, he established himself there, eventually becoming the outstanding Bavarian Rococo sculptor.
Most of Günther's work is in the traditional South German form of altarpieces of painted wood. He was prolific, and his work is to be found in churches all over southern Germany. His sculptures stand out forcefully from their elaborate settings. Günther combined a graceful elongation in his figures, derived from a close study of late-16th-century Mannerist sculpture, with a hard realism recalling late Gothic. He produced powerfully religious images within the light and colorful convention of the Rococo.
Among Günther's early works the most impressive is the altar in the church at Kopřivná in Czechoslovakia (1752 - 3), in which his personal style is already quite recognizable. A characteristic work from his middle period is the great Annunciation group in the church at Weyarn in Upper Bavaria. He can be seen at his most serious and expressive in his last known work, dated 1774, a superbly simple group of the Virgin with the Dead Christ in the cemetery chapel at Nenningen.
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