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A great Baroque master on the outskirts of Latin Europe. Johann Georg Pinsel and the high altar of the church at Hodowica

Ostrowski, Jan K.

In: Artibus et Historiae, 21 (2000), Nr. 42. pp. 197-216

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Translation of abstract (English)

Johann Georg Pinsel (d. 1761 or 1762), working in the south-eastern territories of the old Poland (e.g. in Buczacz and Lvov which are within the borders of the Republic of Ukraine now) from ca. 1750, is an exceptionally mysterious figure. His name appeared in specialistic literature in the interwar period but it was only in the recent years that his names, the approximate date of his death and some biographical details were found out. Archival sources and well-grounded attributions link dozens of sculptures with Pinsel (including the complete interior decorations of the churches at Horodenka and Hodowica, and the figural decorations of the facade of the Cathedral of St George in Lvov; the architecture of all those structures was designed by Bernard Meretyn with whom Pinsel had close professional and personal ties). Unfortunately, the majority of the artist‘s works was destroyed during the Soviet rule.

The article contains a detailed analysis of the high altar in the parish church at Hodowica near Lvov, which was erected on the basis of Meretyn's design between ca. 1751 and 1758. The structure of the retable is supplanted by a fresco on the wall closing the chancel (the schema of the illusionistic architecture was modelled on a drawing by Guiseppe Galli Bibbiena, published in 1740), which serves as a background for Pinsel's exceptionally expressive and lively sculptures, carved in full rounds. The whole composition is the Late Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk, based on strong contrasts between architecture, painting and sculpture, and a manifestation of the iconographic programme referring to the parallel between Christ's Passion and the Eucharist.

Pinsel's sculptures which are his most splendid works (The Mother of Sorrows, The Sacrifice of Isaac, Samson and the Lion) bespeak the artist's good knowledge of Italian and central European sculpture (e.g. Samson and the Lion is reminiscent of S. Maderna's composition). Pinsel's works played a tremendous role in the circle of Lvov, which had its own original and flourishing school of sculpture in the eighteenth century, and they were numerously copied.

The virtuoso art of Pinsel is typified by vivid expressiveness which is rooted in the expressive trend of late Baroque sculpture of the eighteenth century (M.D. Braun) and is in many respects close to Bavarian Late Rococo sculpture (I. Ginther). The excellent artistic quality of Pinsel's oeuvre ranks him among the most outstanding sculptors in Central Europe in the eighteenth century.

Document type: Article
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2014 15:21
Faculties / Institutes: Research Project, Working Group > Individuals
DDC-classification: Arts
Landscaping and area planning
Architecture
Plastic arts, numismatics, ceramics, metalwork
Drawing and decorative arts
Painting
Graphics arts, prints
Controlled Subjects: Pinsel, Jan Jerzy, Hodovycja / Kostel Vsich Svjatych, Hochaltar
Subject (classification): Architecture
Artists, Architects
Drawing, Printmaking
Iconography
Decorative Arts
Painting
Sculpture
Countries/Regions: East Europe
Collection: ART-Dok Central and Eastern Europe