Name of Object:

Sarcophagus of Count Emerik Erdödy


Klanjec, North-West Croatia, Croatia

Holding Museum:

Franciscan Monastery

Date of Object:


Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Probably Johann Philipp Stumpf

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Tin and lead alloy


Length 218 cm


Erdödy family, Franciscan Church and Monastery in Klanjec

Type of object:


Place of production:



The sarcophagus-shaped pewter casket of Count Emerik Erdödy – in the crypt of the side chapel of St. Anthony of Padua in the Franciscan Church in Klanjec – rests on the backs of four stags placed at each corner, with two outspread-winged eagles withholding the weight of the central part. On the front is the coat-of-arms of Emerik Erdödy. At each side, lace-like ornamentation surrounds a cartouche in relief, with an inscription, lion's heads with rings, and skull and crossbones.
In design and iconography, the sarcophagus shows the mature Baroque spirit expressed through the splendid workmanship and vivid imagination of the master who made it.
The skull and crossbones motif was used as a symbol of transience and a reminder of the emptiness of earthly matters.
Iconographically, the stag symbolises pious solitude, a pure life, and the Eucharist but here the stag is purely decorative. This is probably because it was a device used in Erdödy's coat of arms, and Emerik's nephews – having commissioned the sarcophagus – may have thought it fitting to use the stag whose large antlers, with seven points, may symbolise the seven decades of Emerik's life.
The use of animal figures taken from a family's coat of arms was common, and they appear often as the casket bearers of the deceased. For example, two-headed, outstretched-winged eagles carry the sarcophagus of Empress Margarita Theresa Habsburg (Capuchin crypt in Vienna), a heraldic motif that appears on the Habsburg coat of arms. Furthermore, eagles were a common feature of funereal architecture at the turn of the 17th century.
Emerik's sarcophagus has many features in common with the Habsburg sarcophagi in the Capuchin crypt.
It was usual for prominent people to have ceremonial funerals, from the setting of the rite to the appearance of the tomb. Modelling themselves on the imperial family, the families of magnates followed this trend, as seen here in the Erdödy sarcophagus. Its ornate appearance – with emphasis on the decorative effects placed inside the tomb – was a reflection of the family's great wealth. Erdödy's close cultural link with Vienna the capital, is expressed in the design and motifs of the sarcophagus attributed to the circle of the renowned 17th-century Viennese pewterers, very probably Johann Philipp Stumpf, who was the designer for Empress Eleonora Maria's (d. 1697) sarcophagus, which rests on four lions.

View Short Description

The sarcophagus of Count Emerik Erdödy, (d. 1690), rests on the backs of four sitting stags in the crypt of the side chapel of St. Anthony of Padua in the Franciscan Church in Klanjec, which the Croatian branch of the Erdödys built in the 17th century.
The design of the sarcophagus with sitting stags is unique, but there is a degree of an analogy with Empress Eleonora Maria’s (d. 1697) sarcophagus, which, similarly, rests on the figures of four lions, and which the Viennese pewterer, Johann Philipp Stumpf designed.

Original Owner:

Franciscan Church and Monastery in Klanjec

How date and origin were established:

From archive data and evidence on the sarcophagus still in situ; concerning its maker, according to the Viennese restorer, J. Ziegler, who restored the sarcophagus in 1998, it is the work of Johann Philipp Stumpf from Vienna.

How Object was obtained:

In 1981, the Museum's Regional Collection was founded as part of the monastery complex to show works connected with the religious heritage of the Franciscan Monastery and Church in Klanjec. The sarcophagus is in situ.

Selected bibliography:

Horvat, A., O metalnim sarkofazima u Klanjcu (Concerning Metal Sarcophagi in Klanjec), Zagreb, 1982.
Velicogna-Novoselec, M., Kositreni sarkofazi obitelji Erdödy u Klanjcu (The Pewter Sarcophagi of the Erdödy Family in Klanjec), Zagreb, 2007.

Citation of this web page:

Nela Tarbuk  "Sarcophagus of Count Emerik Erdödy" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;BAR;hr;Mus11_A;45;en

Prepared by: Nela Tarbuk
Translation by: Nikolina Jovanović
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: HR 45