Holy Trinity Monument
Plague Pillar (Column)
Osijek, Osječko-baranjska County, Croatia
Votive monument to the plague
Marija Ana Petraš
Marija Ana Petraš, widow of the commander of the fort in Osijek general and vice-marshal Maksimilijan Petraš, initiated the erection of the monument and financed it as was recorded on the occasion by “Pestis Syrmiensis”. In 1784, four statues were taken from Osijek's two city gates to furnish the outer perimeter of the monument.
Votive pillars are a town planning-cum-sculptural brief that is typical of Central Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. They relate broadly speaking to two major historical events of the time: the Turkish threat; defeat and withdrawal, and the plague. The Turkish preoccupation, i.e. victory over the Turks, is symbolised by a depiction of the Immaculate Virgin at the top of a central pillar. Monuments erected to protect from or commemorate the plague depict the Holy Trinity at the centre of the composition and the patron saints of the plague at the base. One of the best-known and most influential examples of the latter is the monument to the Holy Trinity in Graben, Vienna, the planning and construction for which some of Vienna's most prominent sculptors took part.
The core of the Osijek monument consists of a massive pedestal on which there rests a smooth pillar. The Holy Trinity is at the top. The ground plan of the pedestal is expanded by protuberances of four large volute brackets with pedestals on which stand four statues arranged around the pillar. The saints, traditionally held to be sovereign against the plague, are St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis Xavier, St. Roch and St. Sebastian, and additionally, a recumbent figure of St. Rozalia. As is often the case with stone monuments in the open-air, the Osijek Column's sculptural saints are suffering from environmental damage. Moreover, partial alteration of the sculptures during restorations of the past makes their original formal and stylistic features difficult to discern. Still, it is clear that a well-trained sculptor who had thoroughly mastered the contemporary Baroque artistic vocabulary was responsible. In 1784, statues of the Immaculate Virgin, St. Catherine, St. John Nepomuk and St. Joseph were transferred from Osijek's two city gates and placed around the perimeter of the monument.
Placed at the centre of the main square of the Baroque fortress in Osijek, the Plague Column is Croatia's best-preserved example of a monument designed to ward off or commemorate the end of the plague. Such monuments were a characteristic feature of Central European towns in the 17th and 18th centuries.
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Vlasta Zajec "Holy Trinity Monument" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;hr;Mon11;15;en
Prepared by: Vlasta ZajecVlasta Zajec
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 17
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