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Claus Sluter (c. 1360-1406) was perhaps the most important sculptor in the history of Western art, introducing aesthetic and conceptual ideas which subsequently became transparently integral to the visual arts, including individualization of figures, the use of psychological characterization, and a cross-media incorporation of theatricality.

Born in Haarlem, in Holland, he was certainly the most famous sculptor of his time, and though he seems to have developed his style and approach independently of predecessors and contemporaries (like many of the world’s greatest artists), almost every sculptor before the modern era is in his debt. Sculptures like the Well of Moses, at the Chartreuse de Champmol, are still astoundingly resonant, impressive not simply for their role in transforming visual art from stylized tropes into an array of more humanist forms, but on their own as beautiful works of art.

His inimitable and vastly creative style can be connected to a theological movement of the time called the devotio moderna, which espoused a decentralized and personal form of faith in opposition to the stringent hierarchy and corruption of the Catholic church. (See: Claus Sluter and the Devotio Moderna).

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