In 1485 Riemenschneider made the classic move of an ambitious journeyman by marrying a master's widow, Anna Schmidt. This marriage brought him the property he needed to set up his own workshop, along with three children to support. Through talent and hard work he built up a practice, and by 1490 he was receiving major commissions from towns and churches.
Riemenschneider’s favored material, limewood, or linden, is especially suitable for sculpture, since it has a homogeneous texture, making it easier to carve than oak and other woods with a pronounced ray structure. A standing figure was typically carved from a halved section of a tree trunk, clamped horizontally in an adjustable workbench that allowed the block to be rotated.Working from this angle, the sculptor saw the figure in strong foreshortening, much as the viewer would when the finished work was installed above eye level, thus he could compensate for visual distortions by adjusting the proportions and modeling.
The sculptor roughed out the form with a variety of tools after marking the contours of the figure on the block with calipers and compasses: two types of axes, curved and straight adzes used in an overhand chopping motion, broad chisels, and mallets. Various chisels and gouges were used for the elaboration of forms. Certain parts of a figure, such as hands, attributes, and protruding folds of a drapery were carved separately and attached to the figure with dowels. The backs of figures were normally hollowed out to prevent the wood’s cracking as it aged. The carvings were meticulously finished with knives and scrapers, exploiting the contrast between broad, smooth areas and incised details. Last, decorative patterns were either appliquéd or were cut or pressed into the surface with punches. Before a figure left the sculptor’s workshop, the eyes and lips were often tinted.
Dreamily she gazes out from her glass case, far away from our world... in her gracefulness and distinction she is refined to a degree of perfection far above that of mankind today.