Photograph: Jovan Kliska

Name of Monument:

Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Also known as:

The one-time Pauline church in Lepoglava


Lepoglava, Varaždin County, Croatia

Contact DetailsParish Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Trg 1. hrvatskog sveučilišta 3
42250 Lepoglava
T : +385 42 792 566 / +385 42 791 128
RC Parish Office  (Responsible Institution)


Furnishings: 17th and 18th centuries


Sculptors: Alexius Königer (1732–1782), Ivan Jakob Altenbach (d. 1692), Johannes Vedl [n.d.]; painter and gilder: Franz Kochler (active c. 1770s); painter: Ivan Krstitelj (Johann Baptist) Ranger (1700–1753); stuccowork: Anton Joseph Quadrio (active c. 1687–1721)

Denomination / Type of monument:

Religious, monastic church and interior furnishing


The Monastery and Church of St. Mary was founded at the beginning of the 15th century by Herman of Celje, and was modified and fortified to protect the town against the Ottomans at the end of the century during the time of the Hungarian-Croatian king and Croatian viceroy Ivaniš Korvin (1495–1497). From the end of the 17th century, the monastery was the seat of the Croatian Paulist province. During the 16th and 17th centuries, a Paulist high school operated there, and later a school of philosophy. After the dissolution of the order in 1786, the monastery and church came under the chapter of Čazman and, in 1854, it was converted for use as a correction facility. The facility occupied the monastery until 2001, at which time the complex was restored to a church.


During the 1770s, the sculptor, Alexius Königer and his assistants, made five altars and a pulpit. The co-operation between Alexius Königer and the painter and gilder, Franz Kochler from Vienna, is well documented. Königer's sculptural figures are characterised by their smooth theatrical gestures; they are playful and smiling as if dancing to distant music of their time. Along with the works of F. J. Straub and V. Königer, the sculptures of A. Königer constitute one of the very finest episodes of Rococo and Late Baroque sculpture in northern Croatia. Although created over a short period a gradual change is discernable in the Rococo expression of the pulpit, the Altar of St. Anne (completed 1777) and of the Holy Angels, to the increasingly obviously Classicist components of the Altar of the Holy Cross (1779) and St. Paul the Hermit. This holds particularly true for the high altar. Apart from Königer's two earlier altars in the side chapels of the same church, important phases in Late Mannerist altarpieces and sculpture in northern Croatia is evident. The Altar of the Holy Spirit, consecrated in 1657, is a splendid piece matched by the excellent Altar of the Mourning Mary (1676), with statues by the Varaždin sculptor Ivan Jakob Altenbach, whose stylistic expression belongs in the watershed between late Mannerism and early Baroque. Also worth mentioning are the sculptures in the niches of the church façade (1711). The author of these, Johannes Vedl, was a sculptor whose descent and oeuvre remains un-explicated to this day. He signed his name on the back of the figure of Christ. The end of the same decade (1718) saw the creation of the stucco decorations in the Patačić family chapel, by the Italian, Joseph Antonio Quadrio from Styria, who was also the author of the stuccowork in the monastic library (1710–1711). Several grand Baroque structures in northern Croatia hold Quadrio's works such as the one-time Jesuit churches in Zagreb and Varaždin and the Franciscan Church in Varaždin. The works of the Pauline painter, Ivan Ranger include wall paintings and the painted backs of the choir stalls (1735–1737) in the choir and in the sanctuary (1742). Ranger's work compliments the richness of the interior furnishing and constitutes one of the pinnacles of Baroque painting in northern Croatia in both the complexity of the iconographic programme and their painterly execution.

View Short Description

The Pauline church in Lepoglava – a small town at the very heart of the north Croatian region of Hrvatsko Zagorje – played an important role in the cultural life of Croatia as did the entire monastery, which at one time belonged to Pauline monks. The chronological complexity of the furnishings in his Baroque-style Gothic church are seen in the unity of the five altars and a pulpit by the Pauline sculptor, Alexius Königer and his assistants in the 1770s, as well as by the paintings of the Pauline painter, Ivan Krstitelj Ranger (1733–1737; 1742).

How Monument was dated:

Archival sources and dates on the monuments themselves.

Special features


Alongside the north wall of the nave

1770s; completed in 1777

Sculptor: Alexius Königer (1732–1782); painter and gilder: Franz Kochler (active c. 1770s)

The markedly elongated proportions of the pulpit match the vertical character of the Gothic nave, while the refined colour harmonies of the marbling and gilding and the dynamically posed sculpture, create an elegant whole that tells of the refined Late Barque language of its creators. The impression of lightness and airiness is accentuated by playful angelic figures in relaxed poses, which are physically independent of the pulpit architecture. Angels with the attributes of Trust and Love are located at the very edge of the Rocaille volutes of the pulpit. Effective putto, symbols of vanquished disbelief with blindfolded eyes and hands bound in chains, tumble head first from the baldachin. At the top – above the crouched figure of the defeated devil – triumphs an allegorical figure of Faith.


Altar of the Holy Angels, alongside the north side of the triumphal arch

The 1770s, probably before 1777

Sculptor: Alexius Königer (1732–1782); painter and gilder: Franz Kochler (active c. 1770s)

The angel rotating in a dance movement, the fluttering ends of the drapery and the idealised, mildly smiling youthful face, is a characteristic piece of the sculptural typology of Alexius Königer.

High altar


c. 1789

Alexius Königer (1732–1782)

Occupying the whole width and height of the concluding wall of the sanctuary, the altar fits very successfully into the highly articulated setting of the Gothic sanctuary with Ranger’s Baroque painting. Through the choice of an altar design with marked architectural features – with fluted columns repeated in the forms of the tabernacle – a monumental unit was created revealing obvious Classicist tendencies. There is a depiction of the Virgin of Częstocowa, the patron saint of the Paulists, in the central intercolumniation and four figures of the Fathers of the Church in more than life size in the lower part of the altar. In the gable, there is a figure of God the Father in a gloriole interwoven with clouds and angels.

Altar of the Mourning Mary

Chapel of the Mourning Mary


Ivan Jakob Altenbach (d. 1692)

Commissioned by the noblewoman, Judita Balagović Japranska, the altar is a showcase by the Varaždin sculptor Ivan Jakob Altenbach. Like his other altarpieces, it was probably created in collaboration with the Varaždin cabinetmaker, Toma Derwant, and painted and gilded in what was for the time a characteristic contrast of colours for altar architecture: dark paintwork on which gilt ornamentation shines out brilliantly.

St. Macarius

Back of a choir stall


Ivan Krstitelj (Johann Baptist) Ranger (1700–1753)

The painting of the Egyptian hermit, St. Macarius the Great, forms part of a complex iconographic cycle of 24 oil-on-panel paintings built into the backs of the choir stalls on which eremitic figures and motifs are shown – an iconographic choice that refers to the spiritual models of the Paulist community.

Selected bibliography:

Vukičević-Samaržija, D., Gotičke crkve Hrvatskog zagorja, Zagreb, 1993.
Cvetnić, S., "Slikarska djela Ivana Krstitelja Rangera na pjevalištu crkve u Lepoglavi (1735–1737)" in Radovi Instituta za povijest umjetnosti, 30, 2006, pp. 141–162.
Baričević, D., Barokno kiparstvo sjeverne Hrvatske, Zagreb, 2008.

Citation of this web page:

Vlasta  Zajec "Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;BAR;hr;Mon11;10;en

Prepared by: Vlasta ZajecVlasta Zajec

NAME: Vlasta

AFFILIATION: Institute of Art History, Zagreb

TITLE: PhD, Scientific Consultant

Vlasta Zajec was awarded her BA in Art History and Comparative Literature from Zagreb University (Faculty of Philosophy) in 1989. In the same year she began work at the Institute of Art History. She was awarded her MA in 1995 (17th-Century Wooden Altars in Istria), and her PhD in 2001 (17th Century Wooden Sculpture in Istria). She has spent brief periods of study in Italy (Udine, Venice and Trieste) and Germany (Munich). Her areas of research are wooden and marble altars and 17th- and 18th-century sculpture in Istria and North Croatia.

Translation by: Graham McMaster
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: HR 12


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