Franz Anton Maulbertsch (Langenargen 1724-1796 Vienna)
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Franz Anton Maulbertsch (Langenargen 1724-1796 Vienna)

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

Details
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.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Lempertz, Cologne, 15 November 2003, lot 1095.
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Please note the following additional provenance and literature:
Provenance:
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.
Literature:
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.

Lot Essay

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.

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