Silver Altar and Coronation Set
The Moravian palladium; Thaumaturga; The Madonna of Old Brno
Brno-Old Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
Johann Georg Herkommer (1680/90–1754), Christian Friedrich Rudolph, Jan Jiří Schauberger (? before 1725 Vienna, active in Olomouc – 1744 Brno), František Richter, Mathias Schlössinger?
Religious – Church
Augustinian Monastery – Hermits of St. Thomas the Apostle, Provost Ondřej Zirckl (1722–1736)
The Coronation of the Miraculous Picture of the Virgin Mary in Brno was one of the biggest religious celebrations to take place in Czech territory. On the occasion, the Augustinians ordered a retable and a liturgical set from the famous goldsmiths’ workshop in Augsburg, to complement the picture. The altar was designed by C. F. Rudolph and probably executed by J. G. Herkommer, a relative. The models of angels were possibly created by Schauberger, a sculptor from Brno. The altarpiece, transported from Augsburg on the Danube, was installed in the newly constructed Marian Chapel in the Church of St. Thomas and decorated with J. J. Etgens’s paintings. In 1776, during cleaning, decorative elements were added by a Brno silversmith, Richter. In 1783 it was transferred to the dissolved Cistercian convent in Old Brno (acquired by the Augustinian order) where it now makes up part of the high altar in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The altar is copper covered with silver plate, partially gilded. Some parts are cast. Cartouches under the picture and six wrought candlesticks feature emblems and the initials of Abbot O. Zirkl painted on enamel.View Short Description
The Coronation of the Miraculous Picture of the Virgin Mary in Brno was one of the biggest religious celebrations to take place in Czech territory. For the occasion and to complement the picture, the Augustinians ordered a retable and a liturgical set from the famous goldsmiths’ workshop in Augsburg, said to have been donated by Emperor Charles IV. The image was credited with the salvation of Brno from the Swedish siege at the end of the Thirty Years’ War and was thought to have healing properties and bring about other miracles. Members of major Moravian aristocratic families were traditionally married before the Thaumaturga.
According to a contract dated 4 October 1734, the altar was to be completed by 1 September 1735. Both the altar and coronation set are hallmarked. The original state of the altar is captured by several prints depicting the coronation and there are several descriptions of it.
Second half of the 13th century?
This picture of the Virgin Mary is named after its second location. It was the palladium of Brno, a miraculous picture (Thaumaturga) of the Madonna and Child donated to the Augustinian Monastery in Brno by Emperor Charles IV. Members of major Moravian aristocratic families were traditionally wedded before the Thaumaturga. The reliquary, originally embedded in the child’s heart, makes up the clasp of the Madonna’s dress. Relief letters, gilded crowns with precious stones, and a chain come from the period of the picture’s coronation and its incorporation into the new altar. The image was credited with the salvation of Brno from the Swedish siege at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, as well as with healing properties and other miracles.
The radial monstrance is decorated with vine leaves and grapes, the Eucharist, symbol of Christ’s blood. Below the casket is a relief of the Madonna and Child; at the top, under a baldachin, is God and the dove of the Holy Spirit. Cartouches on the richly wrought pedestal feature paintings on enamel: the Madonna of Old Brno and half-figures of the order’s saints.
Johann Georg Herkommer (1680/90–1754)
The spiral part of the sceptre is covered with acanthus leaves and multi-coloured cut glass. In the central halo there is an image of the Madonna of Old Brno transferred into relief form as a cast statue.
Johann Georg Herkommer (1680/90–1754)
Apart from the chalice decorated with half-figures of the order’s saints painted on enamel, and jugs for Abbot Zirckl, there were two other chalices for assisting priests, with scenes from the Lfe and Torment of St. John of Nepomuk and the Passion, created in the Augsburg workshop for the coronation.
Fabrics were essential elements of the coronation ceremony. Viennese embroiderers frequently worked for the monastery. In comparison with other preserved Paraments these appear rather poor. The most spectacular part of the coronation set was the altar with an altarpiece. Accompanying elements were subordinated to it through their reduced decorativeness.
Bohumil Samek, Klášter augustiniánů v Brně, Brno, 1993, pp. 30–31.
Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska I, A-J, Prague, 1994, pp. 188–191.
Ivo Krsek – Zdeněk Kudělka – Miloš Stehlík – Josef Válka, Umění baroka na Moravě a ve Slezsku, ed. Zdeněk Kudělka, Prague, 1996, p. 600.
Zdeněk Kazlepka, Johann Georg Herkommer a “stříbrný” oltář u brněnských augustiniánů, Sborník prací filozofické fakulty brněnské univerzity F 37–39, 1993–1995, pp. 171–188.
Jana Oppeltová, Slavnosti a efemérní architektura, in Jiří Kroupa (ed), Dans le miroir des ombres. La Moravie a la age baroque. 1670–1790, Paris–Rennes–Brno, 2002, pp. 145–159.
Copyright images "Národní památkový ústav v Brně": Národní památkový ústav – územní odborné pracoviště v Brně.
Zora Wörgötter "Silver Altar and Coronation Set" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;11;en
Prepared by: Zora WörgötterZora Wörgötter
AFFILIATION: Moravian Gallery in Brno
TITLE: Museum Curator and Local Co-ordinator
Zora Wörgötter studied Applied Painting at the Secondary School of Applied Arts, Video Art (Faculty of Fine Arts) at the University of Technology in Brno and Art History and Ethnology (Faculty of Arts) at Masaryk University, Brno. She has worked at the Moravian Gallery since 1997 and was curator of the Ancient Art Collection up until 2008. Specialising in Dutch and Central European painting of the 17th and 18th centuries, she has participated in the preparation of several exhibitions, catalogues and research projects in the Czech Republic and abroad, and published in the Moravian Gallery Bulletin, Opuscula historiae artium, and other journals. She is co-ordinator of the Art History Database www.ahice.net for the Czech Republic.
Copyedited by: Jiří KroupaJiří Kroupa
AFFILIATION: Department of the History of Art (Faculty of Arts) Masaryk
Professor Jiří Kroupa studied Art History, History and Sociology Masaryk University, Brno. He was a curator at the Kroměříž Museum and the Moravian Gallery in Brno before joining the staff at Masaryk University in 1988 (Head of the Department 1992–2002; Professor 1999 to present). His particular fields of interest are in the history of architecture, 18th-century cultural history and the methodology of art history. His long list of publications includes an edition on the architect Franz Anton Grimm and an essay “The alchemy of happiness: the Enlightenment in the Moravian context”. He was contributing editor for the volume Dans le miroir des ombres. Moravie a la age baroque. 1670–1790 (2002).
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: CZ 11
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Discover Baroque Art Exhibition(s)Devotion and Pilgrimage | Specifics of devotional iconography Ephemera, Festivals and Theatrical Representation | The theatre of the Church
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