• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7448

    Old Master and British Pictures

    7 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 177

    Franz Anton Maulbertsch (Langenargen 1724-1796 Vienna)

    The Glorification of Saint John Nepomuk: a modello for an altarpiece

    Price Realised  


    Franz Anton Maulbertsch (Langenargen 1724-1796 Vienna)
    The Glorification of Saint John Nepomuk: a modello for an altarpiece
    oil on canvas
    28¾ x 15¼ in. (73 x 38.7 cm.)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    This modello for a large-scale altarpiece depicts the glorification of John (Jan) Nepomuk (1340-1393), the national saint of Bohemia. Born in the small market town Pomuk, John became vicar-general to the Archbishop of Prague. According to legend, he was also the confessor of the Queen of Bohemia, and was thrown off the Charles Bridge in Prague for refusing to divulge secrets received in Confession. Five stars appeared in the sky above the spot in the Vltava River where he drowned.

    The veneration of John Nepomuk as patron saint of the Seal of the Confessional was strongly promoted by the Catholic Church through ensuing centuries; his traditional attributes are the martyr's palm, the Crucifix (here being passed to St. John by an angel) and a halo of stars. Maulbertsch, an Austrian painter who has left monuments throughout Europe and whose colorito has been compared to that of Tiepolo, envisioned a grand altarpiece, with the Allegory of the Church seated beneath the saint, and a Confession scene beyond. The virtuoso brushwork is typical of the artist, as is his mediation of Late Baroque and the emerging Neoclassical style.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Anonymous sale; Lempertz, Cologne, 15 November 2003, lot 1095.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the following additional provenance and literature:
    Phillip Gottard Graf von Schaffgotsch, Fürstbischof von Breslau (1716-1795) and by descent in the family until
    Grafen Schaffgotsch und der Grafen von Francken-Sierstorpft, circa 1960.
    K. Garas, 'Franz Anton Maulbertsch - Neue Funde' in Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Gallerie, 15, 1971, no. 59.

    Klara Garas examined this picture in the original in 1959 and suggested a date of circa 1744.