A WOOD MODEL OF THE HIGH ALTAR OF SAINT PETER'S ABBEY, SALZBURG
PROPERTY FROM AN ENGLISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
A WOOD MODEL OF THE HIGH ALTAR OF SAINT PETER'S ABBEY, SALZBURG

AUSTRIAN, PROBABLY BY THE WORKSHOP OF LORENZ HÖRMBLER, CIRCA 1777

Details
A WOOD MODEL OF THE HIGH ALTAR OF SAINT PETER'S ABBEY, SALZBURG
AUSTRIAN, PROBABLY BY THE WORKSHOP OF LORENZ HÖRMBLER, CIRCA 1777
The polychrome parcel-gilt model adorned with figures of saints Virgil, Rupert, Vitalis and Amandus; the second tier with figures of angels and putti; the altar topped by a winged angel holding a cross seated on a cloud behind a radiant sun; with painted images depicting Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena before the Virgin and Child, the other depicting God the Father with the Holy Spirit
47 in. (119.4 cm.) high
Provenance
Sir Clifford Curzon and by descent.

Brought to you by

Donald Johnston
Donald Johnston

Lot Essay

Saint Peter's Abbey is a Benedictine monastery and is considered the oldest monastery in central Europe. The present day building was a Romanesque invention, but the interior was refurbished in the Rococo style between 1760 and 1782. The majority of these changes, including the high altar, which transformed Saint Peter's into a sumptuous theatre of art and music, were designed by Lorenz Hörmbler, circa 1777. The present model was likely created by an assistant, under Hörmbler's direction, to show to the church authorities for approval. The small adjustments in the design of the completed altar, particularly to the mouldings to the third tier, are in part evidence that the present lot is a preliminary model. The model is beautifully crafted, with great attention given to each individual figure and moulding. The paintings on the model depict the same subject matter as in Martin Johann Schmidt's (1718-1801) completed canvases, but differ compositionally, which suggests that Hörmbler's assistant was aware of the agreed commission but had not been witness to, or was working before, Schmidt had finalised his compositions.

Sir Clifford Curzon CBE (1907-1982) was the leading British pianist of his generation. The son of an antiques dealer and music lover, Curzon studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and at the age of 17 was the youngest pupil ever to have been accepted into the senior school. After he completed his studies he embarked on a long and fruitful career touring throughout Europe and the US, and was particularly noted for his interpretations of Mozart and Schubert. When he was just 31 the New York Times described him as an 'artist of prime importance, a supreme colourist with an impeccable virtuoso technique'. Mozart premiered his famed Mass in C Minor at Saint Peter's in 1783, and regularly directed the orchestra there, and Curzon's love for Mozart must have informed his purchase of the model. He was knighted in 1977.

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