Adoration of the Shepherds
Governor’s Palace, Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
Moravian Gallery, Brno
Martin Johann Schmidt (Kremser-Schmidt) (1718, Grafenwörth-1801, Stein an der Donau)
Oil on canvas
H: 80 cm; w: 110 cm
Municipal Museum, Olomouc
Stein an der Donau, Austria
The New Testament account of the shepherds' adoration of the infant Jesus is rendered as a genre picture. The landscape setting is not typical of Kremser-Schmidt's oeuvre which predominantly comprised sizeable altarpieces. The artist reduced the scene to primary figures and their attributes and based the picture on atmospheric use of colour and light. A contrasting motif of a forked tree receding into a dark cloud separates the main scene from the background. The light appears to emanate from within the picture itself, from the infant Jesus, and is reflected on the hay in the barn and tools in the foreground. These motifs are reminiscent of 17th-century Dutch painting, something that Kremser-Schmidt focused upon unlike his contemporaries. His interest in chiaroscuro and the relaxed brushstrokes pay tribute to Rembrandt's painting style. The colour scheme is, however, original. The scale of brown tones illuminated with various hues of golden ochre are offset by Mary's blue robe and accents of vermilion in the detail. The palette is complemented by a grey-blue background with light effects.
The picture is one of only a few known examples of the artist's early work, that often appears to be inspired by northern Italian painting, and which he probably saw either during a journey to Venice in 1746 or through prints brought back from there for him. He later settled in Stein near Krems, and sent his paintings to Lower Austria, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. In the last quarter of the 18th century his paintings were distributed in Moravia (Vranov, Bratrušov). His student, Franz Oesterreicher, worked in Jihlava. Schmidt's oeuvre spanned changes in style from the late baroque to classicism and this was accompanied by an extension of thematic scale: portrait, genre painting and ancient mythology.
The shepherds’ adoration of the infant Jesus is rendered as a genre picture. The landscape setting is not typical of Kremser-Schmidt, whose work largely comprised altarpieces for the Habsburgian lands. The painter reduced the scene to primary figures and based the picture on the atmospheric use of colour and light.
Art Museum, Olomouc
The picture was determined as a work by Kremser-Schmidt on the basis of a style analysis by Ivo Krsek.
The picture comes from the former Municipal Museum in Olomouc. Its original provenance is unknown.
Ivo Krsek, Ivo Krsek, Beitrag zum Werk Martin Johann Schmidts (Kremser-Schmidt), Sborník prací filozofické fakulty brněnské univerzity, F 10, 1966, pp. 51–52.
Rupert Feuchtmüller, Der Kremser-Schmidt, Innsbruck–Wien, 1989, pp. 54, 377, WV 137.
Michael Grünwald, Kam mit der Weinfuhr von Krems auch ein 20 Schuch langes und 10 Schuch hohes Bild an...Der Maler Martin Johann Schmidt (1718–1801) und seine Kunsttransporte, in Friedrich Polleroß (ed), Reiselust & Kunstgenuss. Barockes Böhmen, Mähren und Österreich, Petersberg, 2004, p. 179.
Zora Wörgötter " Adoration of the Shepherds" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;cz;Mus11_B;43;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 44