Church of the Elevation of the Cross, Doubravník
Doubravník, Moravia, Czech Republic
1535–1537; 1679; 1786
Johann Baptist Spiess (? Scherzingen – 1688 Brno), Jan Jiří Schauberger (? before 1725 Vienna, active in Olomouc – 1744 Brno), Ondřej Schweigl (1735–1812, Brno), Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724 Langenargen am Bodensee – 1796 Vienna), Jan Výmola (1722 Ptení – 1805 Brno)
Religious – Parish Church with a family tomb
Vratislav and Vojtěch of Pernštejn, Counts Mittrovský
This monastery church, established after forest clearance before 1220 and devastated by the Tartars and Hussites, was converted into a burial church for one of the most influential families in the country, the Lords of Pernštejn. The Neo-Gothic tomb of the Mittrovskýs of Nemyšl belongs to a leading aristocratic family of the mid-18th century, advocates of the Enlightenment and founders of the Moravian Provincial Museum in Brno.
The triple-nave church contains five pairs of columns, without capitals, graduating into the ribs of the vault. The side naves feature cross vaulting, the main nave has a reticulated vault. Marble consoles and columns feature coats of arms of the Lords of Pernštejn and related families. The chancel walls and the church floor contain aristocratic tombs. The tomb of the Lords of Pernštejn is under the presbytery but it is empty – plundered by the Swedes who besieged Pernštejn Castle in 1645 – and who took the pewter and silver coffins to Sweden as war booty.View Short Description
The high altarpiece in the burial church of two major Moravian families was among the last works created in Moravia by F. A. Maulbertsch, a leading 18th-century artist of the Habsburg Monarchy. The miraculous scene is portrayed with light effects accentuated by sculpted decoration. The chiaroscuro picture opens with whitish figures of saints in restricted postures, and classicist flowing gowns. The segmentation and colour scheme of the retable blend the late-Baroque altar with the Gothic architecture, producing, despite a variety of styles, a unified, noble interior.
The altar is dated by a commemorative inscription; the altarpiece is signed and dated by J. K. Spiess.
Ondřej Schweigl (1735–1812, Brno), Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724 Langenargen am Bodensee – 1796 Vienna)
The Invention of the Cross altarpiece was one of the last works created in Moravia by Franz Anton Maulbertsch, a leading artist of the Habsburg Monarchy during the 18th-century. His canvases are frequently framed by altar architecture and statues by O. Schweigl. In fact, Schweigl was among the first to report on the work of this artist in his treatises on Moravian art; among them, his History of Art was a recommended textbook at schools of higher-education. The altarpiece is surrounded by statues of St. Peter with Mary Magdalene, and St. Paul with St. Veronica. Schweigl also created the statues of Saints Barbara and Joseph for the side altars, complementing pictures by Ferdinand Licht (1800), a Brno artist who maintained a late-Baroque style until the early 19th century. The Invention of the Cross, already expressively painted by Maulbertsch in Hradište, near Znojmo, is rendered in an objective manner. The miraculous scene is portrayed with light effects accentuated by sculpted decoration. The chiaroscuro picture, with its rhetorical gestures, opens with the whitish figures of saints in restricted postures, and classicist flowing gowns. Their faces are full of strong emotional movement. The segmentation and colour scheme of the retable, which is made from imitation marble from a local source used for the construction of the church, blend the late-Baroque altar with the Gothic architecture, producing, despite a variety of styles, a noble and unified interior.
Johann Baptist Spiess (? Scherzingen – 1688 Brno)
The artist of the original altarpiece for the high altar came to Moravia via Vienna. He worked for the Bishop of Olomouc as a copyist and collaborated on the decoration of the Provincial Books. He settled in Brno, where, commissioned by the Augustinians, he created a sizeable veduta of the town (1675). A comparison with the present altarpiece shows a change in style within a single century.
Jan Výmola (1722 Ptení – 1805 Brno)
The relief-shaped organ case is decorated with carved drapery, angels and putti playing musical instruments. The Brno master was one of the best-known organists in Moravia.
Jan Jiří Schauberger (?, before 1725 Vienna, active in Olomouc – 1744 Brno)
This picture of the Virgin Mary and Child is set inside a stucco frame carried by angels and surrounded by figures of Saints Michael and Sebastian. Similar altars were created for numerous churches and chapels after the coronation of this miraculous picture of the “protectress of the country” in Brno in 1736.
Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska I, A-J, Prague, 1994, pp. 407–411.
Jiří Kroupa (ed), Dans le miroir des ombres. La Moravie al al age baroque 1670–1790, Paris–Rennes–Brno, 2002, pp. 74, 76, 77, 218, 326.
Jiří Sehnal, Barokní varhanářství na Moravě, Brno, 2003.
Jiří Kroupa, Franz Anton Maulbertsch: Aufklärung, Auftraggeber und Mentalitäten in Mähren, in Eduard Hindelang – Lubomír Slavíček (eds), Franz Anton Maulbertsch und Mitteleuropa. Beiträge zum 30-jährigen Bestehen des Museums Langenargen, Langenargen–Brno, 2007, pp. 23–44.
Zora Wörgötter "Church of the Elevation of the Cross, Doubravník" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;27;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 Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 27