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The relief with the scene of Christ’s Prayer in Gethsemane is dated from 1493–1495. It came to the church in Ptaszkowa (erected in 1555), presumably in the first half of the 19th century, where it was also discovered. It is considered to be the handiwork of Veit Stoss.
Today, this sculptor is considered to be the most famous Nuremberg-Kraków artist. He came from Horb am Neckar, situated in the then so-called Further Austria. Born in 1438, he died in 1533, at the age of 95. He created works in the late Gothic style, mainly around religious themes. In 1477, he resigned from Nuremberg citizenship and moved to Kraków – at that time, the capital of the Kingdom of Poland.

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The relief with the scene of Christ’s Prayer in Gethsemane is dated from 1493–1495. It came to the church in Ptaszkowa (erected in 1555), presumably in the first half of the 19th century, where it was also discovered. It is considered to be the handiwork of Veit Stoss.
Today, this sculptor is considered to be the most famous Nuremberg-Kraków artist. He came from Horb am Neckar, situated in the then so-called Further Austria. Born in 1438, he died in 1533, at the age of 95. He created works in the late Gothic style, mainly around religious themes. In 1477, he resigned from Nuremberg citizenship and moved to Kraków – at that time, the capital of the Kingdom of Poland. The first recorded work by Stoss was the retable, in the most important parish church of the city of Kraków: St. Mary’s Altar. The sculptor also created a monumental stone crucifix in the southern nave of this church. In Poland, Stoss also left behind: the red marble tombstone of King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk in Wawel Cathedral (the Chapel of the Holy Cross), the tombstones of bishops Zbigniew Oleśnicki in Gniezno and Piotr from Bnin in Włocławek, and other retables, not preserved to this day. In 1498, he returned to Nuremberg, where he created his further works.
The relief from Ptaszkowa depicts three figures in a scene of Christ’s Prayer in Gethsemane. The composition is enclosed in the form of a triangle. The figures of two sleeping apostles—St. John and St. Peter – have been placed in the foreground, at the bottom; Christ has been placed in the centre, on an elevation in the background; Jesus is shown from the right profile, as he kneels on the rock with outstretched hands, folded in a gesture of prayer. He is clad in a long, abundant robe. At the bottom, the fabric shows considerable draping, with broken folds; underneath, it is spread in semicircles, with a section arching upwards. In the lower part, on the left, the figure of St. John appears, turned en trois quarts and shown in a sitting position. The saint is supporting his elbows on his thighs; his entwined hands are hanging freely. He is dressed in a long, loose robe and a coat, a heavily draped part of which is wrapped around his left hand, at the height of his chest. St. Peter appears on the right side of the composition, shown en face, in a semi-recumbent position. His head is resting on his left forearm, supported on a rock, while he is holding a cleaver in his right hand, which is hanging down freely. He is lifting his head. Saint Peter is clad in a long, ruffled garment, fastened with a row of buttons at the front, trousers, and a long coat on his shoulders, buttoned at the neck with strongly folding and draped edges.
The loss of wood between the figure of Christ and St. Peter testifies to the incompleteness of the relief. At one time, St. Jacob emerged from behind the right shoulder of St. Peter.   We know this because of a small, visible fragment at the back of the work – which remains from the carving of the head of the apostle – is placed at the same height as the head of the St. Pete in its immediate vicinity, is also missing in the background An image of an angel, that usually appears in the scene, Is also missing in the background.
The relief was made from two pieces of lime wood of similar width, glued edge-to-edge. The connection of these elements runs vertically along Christ’s elbow. The reverse of the relief was carved with a half-round blade chisel, 5.5 cm wide and 3 to 7 cm deep. However, the carving of the relief reaches 10 cm in depth next to the figure of St. John and, in some parts, turns into a full sculpture (for example, the part with heads and hands). This gradation creates the impression of spaciousness, which the sculptor has also intuitively introduced, thanks to the saints presented in foreshortening. The relief figures were rendered very realistically, with detailed elaboration of anatomical parts; their faces display diverse physiognomic types, reflecting their age and character. However, this realism goes hand in hand with the stylisation of forms reflected in the treatment of the garments. The body position of the figures is not readily conspicuous under the cover of abundant and extremely meticulously designed fabrics. However, their strong draping and deeply carved folds adds expression to the whole composition. 
Over St. John’s hands, the fold arrangement of the coat creates the chiaroscuro inscription: “STVOS”. The first three letters – “STV” – emerge on the upper level, below the next two: “O” – forming the sleeve’s hem – and “S” to its right. This constitutes the sculptor’s crypto-signature, which confirms the attribution of the relief to Stoss.
Unfortunately, the lack of sources allows us to consider the primary function, origin, and location of the Ptaszkowa relief only hypothetically. In the 19th century, in Ptaszkowa, this work was a part of the Gethsemane, located in the outer wall of the presbytery. Earlier, however, the relief probably created the quarters of a reredos that is not preserved today, perhaps from the parish church of St. Mary’s in Kraków.
Christ’s Prayer in Gethsemane n from Ptaszkowa underwent conservation in 2002, which was undertaken by Stanisław Stawowiak. Since 2003, this work by Veit Stoss has been deposited at the Regional Museum in Nowy Sącz, where it has enriched the permanent exhibition of guild art. In 2005, the relief was presented at the exhibition entitled, Around Veit Stoss, at the National Museum in Kraków, organized in cooperation with the Nuremberg House in Kraków and the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg. In September 2011, this work by Veit Stoss was loaned to Berlin for the exhibition entitled Poland – Germany, 1000 years of history in art. The exhibition was prepared by the Royal Castle in Warsaw and the Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum in Berlin, on the occasion of the first Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Elaborated by Józef Walczyk (Nowy Sącz District Museum), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

Bibliography:
Obok. Polska – Niemcy. 1000 lat historii w sztuce, ed. Omilanowska Małgorzata, Kraków 2011;
Stawowiak Magdalena, Modlitwa Chrystusa w Ogrojcu, [in:] Wokół Wita Stwosza, catalog of the exhibition at the National Museum in Kraków, ed. Horzela Dobrosława, Organisty Adam, Krystyna Stefaniak, Kraków 2005, p. 70-75;
Stawowiak Magdalena, Późnogotycki drewniany Ogrojec w kościele Wszystkich Świętych w Ptaszkowej – Domniemane Dzieło Wita Stwosza, “Folia Historiae Artium”, 10 (2006), p. 89–114;
Stawowiak Stanisław, Dokumentacja konserwatorska Modlitwy w Ogrojcu, Nowy Sącz 2003.

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In Veit Stoss’s Gethsemane

The depiction of Christ in Gethsemane appeared three times in the works currently attributed to Veit Stoss. The theme itself is one of the scenes in the iconography of the Passion. It was widely used in the 2nd half of the 15th century in the art of South Germany. This event was described in the gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke. Christ is shown praying in Gethsemane (the olive garden) at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, accompanied by three sleeping apostles: St. John, St. Peter, and St. James.

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The depiction of Christ in Gethsemane appeared three times in the works currently attributed to Veit Stoss. The theme itself is one of the scenes in the iconography of the Passion. It was widely used in the 2nd half of the 15th century in the art of South Germany. This event was described in the gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke. Christ is shown praying in Gethsemane (the olive garden) at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, accompanied by three sleeping apostles: St. John, St. Peter, and St. James. According to one of the versions:

Bas-relief  Prayer in the Olive Garden , Veit Stoss, 1485-1490, NationalMuseum in Kraków, source: Ludwig Schneider / WikimediaCC BY-SA 3.0 EN

“He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he told them, «Pray that you may not fall into temptation.» Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, «Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me — nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.» Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief.” (Luke 22:39-45)
 

According to the words mentioned above, the angel was with a cup of bitterness symbolizing passion, and the Eucharist was usually shown in front of Christ. There are also versions with a group of angels holding the tools of the Passion (arma christi). In the 14th and 15th centuries, God the Father was also shown, however, less frequently. The staffage could also be supplied by a representation of Judas heading for the garden with a group of armed men, since the scene following the Prayer in the Olive Garden was the scene of the Capture of Christ.
Among Stoss’s depictions of this scene, only the bas-relief from Ptaszkowa was carved in wood; the remainder were carved in stone. It is also an intermediate step between the Kraków and Nuremberg period of the sculptor's work, when individual compositional elements and his treatment of space had changed.
The first and the earliest bas-relief of Gethsemane is located in Kraków and was attributed to the Master, based on the stylistic features, dated to 1485–1490, and the work from Ptaszkowa was compared with it. The second relief is located in St. Sebaldus’s Church in Nuremberg and the central part of the triptych of the epitaph of Paul Volckamer from 1499. It is signed with the Stoss house mark and his encrypted signature.

The Cracovian bas-relief has an elaborated background, in contrast with the work from Ptaszkowa, which is devoid of it. The Cracovian work demonstrates the rocky landscape of Gethsemane, in a conventionally treated perspective. In its right-hand upper corner, there is a depiction of Judas approaching with a group of armed men, and Jerusalem appears in the distance. Often, the similarity of the landscape form in this relief to Stoss’s engraving, Raising of St. Lazarus [Wskrzeszenie św. Łazarza], is emphasized. Christ is not evidently elevated above the apostles, whose characters, in a reversed position compared to the work from Ptaszkowa (St. John on the right, St. Peter on the left side of the relief), surround him in the shape of a wreath. The multitude and meticulousness of motifs; abundant, crumpled robes; and piled-up rocks, to a large extent fill the space of the bas-relief, showing that it was treated in decorative categories. It also lacks the strong tension that characterizes the Master’s works. The composition of the bas-relief from Ptaszkowa was derived directly from this depiction. However, the concept of capturing the whole and linking elements of the composition has changed. The figure of Christ, situated on a large rock, was elevated above the disciples, who — sleeping in the foreground — constitute a visual basis for Jesus. At the same time, the figures of the apostles were separated from the previously dense group and shown individually s. Clearing a multitude of elements from the compositions calmed the space, and allowed the creation of a greater degree of emotional tension and psychological depth to the individual characters. The sculptor resigned from focusing on detail and switched to concentrating on the overall idea and capturing the whole scene. Heavy robes are no longer so densely draped over the whole surface, but rather the folds are concentrated on particular fragments, especially at the edges of the fabrics, which made the layout of the figures more conspicuous. In the bas-relief from Ptaszkowa — in which a background is absent — space is felt through other elements of the work. First of all, thanks to the figures of the apostles, depicted in the foreground and shown in foreshortening perspective (almost frontally) and the hollow, strongly chiaroscuro, relief (in several spots turning into full sculpture), we have the impression of extraordinary depth. The anatomical elements of the figures — faces and hands — were very precisely sculpted and presented with full realism, as was the decoratively treated and styled hair. In the work from Ptaszkowa, Stoss’s new compositions were initiated. These were developed in the Nuremberg relief. The Gethsemane, from Volckamer’s epitaph, is depicted in a mirror image of the two previous ones. Equally, previously used compositional and formal solutions have been applied to it in the most mature expression. This can be observed in the solution of the background issue, which was shown with a great understanding of space, divided into parts. The composition, in spite of using many components, is far more readable than in the Cracovian work.  
All those bas-reliefs are the subsequent stages on the artistic path of Veit Stoss. In these artistic works, a departure away from meticulousness and emphasis on the formal components of the sculptures was increasingly manifested. Nevertheless, the sculptures by Stoss — which are so close to realism — still could not escape the feature of decorativeness, placing itself between these two tendencies.
Stoss’s depiction of Gethsemane — especially in the scope of composition — did not differ from those of German painting in the 2nd half of the 15th century. Works by Hans Pleydenwurff from the Church of St. Michael in Hof have been compared with Modlitwa w Ogrójcu. The engravings by Martin Schongauer and Monogramist A, were undoubtedly the source of inspiration for the sculptor, from which he derived individual themes.

The scope of the impact of Veit Stoss’s sculpture on Lesser Poland is a completely different matter. However, several representations of Cracovian workshops, directly referring to the model developed by Stoss, can be mentioned. A work which is a compilation of elements from the sculptor's various realizations is Triptych of Crucifixion [Triptych Ukrzyżowania], the so-called Olbracht Triptych, produced between 1501 and 1505, located in one of the chapels of Wawel Cathedral. His creator used the compositional pattern of bas-relief on one of the wings of the triptych with the scene Modlitwa Chrystusa w Ogrójcu, from the works by Stoss mentioned above. Peculiar parallels refer to the master’s work from Kraków. However, in this realization, the arrangement of the characters has been changed a little. Furthermore, in the Church of St. Jan Kanty in Stryszów, there is a bas-relief which is almost an identical copy of Stoss’s composition, dated to around 1500. This relief is characterized by certain innovations (e.g. Christ facing away en trois quarts not profiled), indicating a lack of passive repetition.
The work of Stoss was copied not only in the local environment, but also in the entire community of Central European sculptors. In the productions of the workshops of Lesser Poland, which were created after Stoss’s departure to Nuremberg (1496), there were many formal connections to his Cracovian works. They contain numerous borrowings and elements, which had been varied within the scope of interpretation of the theme and composition, often used without much understanding.

See also: The Gethsemane Chapel at St. Barbara Church in Krakow.

 

Elaborated byPaulina Kluz (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Bibliography:
Zdzisław Kępiński, Wit Stwosz, Warszawa 1981;
Pismo Święte Starego i Nowego Testamentu, Poznań 2003 [access: 02.2015];
Piotr Skubiszewski, Wit Stwosz, Warszawa 1985;
Wit Stwosz w Krakowie, red. Lech Klinowski, Franciszek Stolot, Kraków 1987;
Wokół Wita Stwosza, katalog wystawy w Muzeum Narodowym w Krakowie, red. nauk. Dobrosława Horzela, Adam Organisty, Kraków 2005.

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Agony in the Garden by Veit Stoss

Paschal Triduum: a three-day celebration of the paschal mystery, which starts with the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday is a key element of celebrating the most important Christian Holiday, namely, Easter. The event that followed the Last Supper on Holy Thursday was Christ’s Agony in the Garden (an olive grove called Gethsemane), described by the evangelists: Matthew, Mark and Luke (Mt 26: 36-46; Mk 14: 32-46; Luke 22: 39-46). This is one of the most emotional episodes in the Gospel: here, just before being captured, the night before the Passion, Christ experiences moments of fear and loneliness (the disciples who were accompanying him fell asleep). The Saviour’s prayer expresses fear: he is terrified by the metaphorical “cup of bitterness” that he will have to drink on the day of the Passion (“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” – hence, representations of the Agony in the Garden depicted an angel holding a cup in front of Jesus). It was this tragic scene, revealing the Messiah’s fear of death and suffering, that was one of the most popular themes found on medieval epitaphs and in cemetery chapels.

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Relief “Agony in the garden” by Veit Stoss from church of All Saints in Ptaszkowa, 1493–1495, Kraków.
Digitalisation: RDW MIC, public domain


Paschal Triduum: a three-day celebration of the paschal mystery, which starts with the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday is a key element of celebrating the most important Christian Holiday, namely, Easter. The event that followed the Last Supper on Holy Thursday was Christ’s Agony in the Garden (an olive grove called Gethsemane), described by the evangelists: Matthew, Mark and Luke (Mt 26: 36-46; Mk 14: 32-46; Luke 22: 39-46). This is one of the most emotional episodes in the Gospel: here, just before being captured, the night before the Passion, Christ experiences moments of fear and loneliness (the disciples who were accompanying him fell asleep). The Saviour’s prayer expresses fear: he is terrified by the metaphorical “cup of bitterness” that he will have to drink on the day of the Passion (“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” – hence, representations of the Agony in the Garden depicted an angel holding a cup in front of Jesus). It was this tragic scene, revealing the Messiah’s fear of death and suffering, that was one of the most popular themes found on medieval epitaphs and in cemetery chapels.

Agony in the Garden as a “cemetery” theme.

The Chapel of the Agony in the Garden near the Church of St. Barbara in Kraków, ca. 1488 (?) – 1516, photo Cancre, Wikimedia Commons

In Kraków, Late-Gothic Agonies in the Garden, linked to the old cemetery at St. Mary’s Basilica, are preserved; the cemetery itself was closed at the end of the 18th century for sanitary reasons. Today’s Church of St. Barbara, located between Mariacki Square and Mały Rynek [the Little Market], stands were the cemetery chapel funded by Mikołaj Wierzynek the Elder, mentioned in sources as early as in 1338, was once situated. The Church in its current form originates from the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. A hundred years later, a chapel with arcades opening onto to the cemetery was added to it. Its founder was Adam Szwarc (a Krakovian councillor also known as Szworc in the sources): a mention from 1488 regarding the altar of the chapel called Ogrodziec at the cemetery near St. Mary’s Basilica being funded by him has been preserved, and information on the initiatives he subsequently sponsored comes from his will dated 1509.

This chapel was essentially a private tomb of the Szwarc family, but twice a year, on Holy Thursday and All Souls’ Day, it served all the parishioners. Inside, there are several sculptures depicting Christ’s Agony in the Garden – it is believed that they were most likely created at the workshop of Veit Stoss. In the 16th century, the approaching figure of Judas accompanied by soldiers was added in their backgrounds.

Sculptures inside the Chapel of the Agony in the Garden near the Church of St. Barbara in Kraków, photo Jan Jeništa, Wikimedia Commons


Another work associated with the old cemetery at St. Mary’s Basilica is a stone relief, depicting Christ’s Agony in the Garden – this is a work by Veit Stoss himself, dated ca. 1485–1490. The sculpture – made of sandstone – was built in a tenement house on Mariacki Square up until 1911. Later, however, it was moved to the National Museum in Kraków, while the façade of the building number 8 has hosted a copy of it since then. The original is currently on display at an exhibition of old Polish art in the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace gallery.

Veit Stoss, Christ’s Agony in the Garden, ca. 1485-1490, the National Museum in Kraków, photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

The story of the sculpture from Ptaszkowa

The wooden church in Ptaszkowa near Nowy Sącz dates back to 1555. It is not known when exactly the sculpture devoted to the Agony in the Garden got there, although it was probably in the 1st half of the 19th century. It was placed in a niche in the outer wall of the chancel, in other words, in conditions that are very unfavourable to wooden figures. In 1851, it attracted the attention of Józef Łepkowski, who noticed its similarities to the previously mentioned Agony in the Garden made of stone by Veit Stoss and located in Mariacki Square in Kraków. In 1889, Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer made drawings depicting the sculpture from Ptaszkowa, as part of a journey in their youth. It began with a student inventory tour under the supervision of Professor Władysław Łuszczkiewicz from the School of Fine Arts in Kraków, which the young artists continued on their own, visiting historic churches in the Sądecczyzna region.

Józef Mehoffer, drawing of the Agony in the Garden from Ptaszkowa, 1889, sketchbook at the Museum of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, illustrated by: Tadeusz Łopatkiewicz, “Naukowo-artystyczna wycieczka w Sądeckie z 1889 roku na tle zabytkoznawczej działalności Władysława Łuszczkiewicza i uczniów krakowskiej Szkoły Sztuk Pięknych”, Nowy Sącz 2008, p. 76. Stanisław Wyspiański, a drawing of the sculpture from Ptaszkowa, 1889, sketchbook at the Museum of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, photo: Wikimedia Commons Stanisław Wyspiański, a drawing of the sculpture from Ptaszkowa, 1889, sketchbook at the Museum of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, photo: Wikipedia


Unfortunately, subsequent renovations significantly damaged the relief from Ptaszkowa; in the 1930s, all the layers were brutally removed, and it was then covered with mortar, new polychrome, golden and silver decorations. What is worse, at the end of the 20th century, these repaintings were also incompetently modified. In 2002, the sculpture was finally subjected to careful maintenance, which was carried out by Stanisław Stawowiak; the results of the research were published by Magdalena Stawowiak in an article in the journal Folia Historiae Artium, as well as in the catalogue of the Wokół Wita Stwosza [Around Veit Stoss] exhibition, held at the National Museum in Kraków in 2005. 

Sensational results of the maintenance work

As a result of the renovations, it was discovered that under the paint, there was a work of such a high quality that Veit Stoss himself could be considered its author! The sculpture dates back to ca. 1493–1495 because it represents the master’s more mature style, one that evolved after Stoss had crafted tombstones for King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (1492) and Bishop Piotr of Bnin (1493). While creating dramatic representations, the artist pursued a synthesis of forms, emphasizing the monumental nature of his compositions at the expense of fine details. The ability to freely shape forms using soft sculptor's modelling is also a characteristic element of Stoss’ style from that period.

 

In addition, while working on the sculpture from Ptaszkowa, Stanisław Stawowiak noticed an incredible detail: the unnaturally shaped folds of St. John’s robes arrange themselves into the letters S-T-V-O-S. Originally, the legibility of these letters was probably enhanced by the sculpture's polychrome (it is clear from the preserved traces that, initially, Christ was dressed in a purple robe, with John in a red robe and a blue cloak and Peter in a navy blue robe and a red cloak). This is an extremely interesting case of a so-called crypto-signature: the artist wove his name directly into the work of art, camouflaging it in the tangles of the dynamic, unnaturally-shaped draperies. We know that Stoss used such measures, for example in the epitaph of Paul Volckamer from the St. Sebaldus Church in Nuremberg dated 1499. This stone work of art consists of three panels depicting the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden and the Arrest. In the last panel, one of the soldiers carries a sabre decorated with letters which can be arranged into the inscription VIT STUOZ.

Veit Stoss, Paul Volckamer’s epitaph from the St. Sebaldus Church in Nuremberg, 1499, photo: Daderot, Wikipedia

 

Personally, I have the impression that Stoss’s crypto-signature hidden in the folds of robes may also be found in the small sculpture of Madonna and Child, now kept in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The local curators consider the figurine to be a work of Stoss still made in Kraków before the artist returned to Nuremberg in 1496. It must be emphasized, however, that these expressively creased, dynamic robes with rigidly-shaped folds are simply an extremely characteristic stylistic element in Late-Gothic art – strange forms do not necessarily have to contain hidden inscriptions.

Veit Stoss, Madonna and Child, before 1496,
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


After removing the second repaintings from the sculpture from Ptaszkowa, the restorers decided not to reconstruct the polychrome of this sculpture. The only major alteration made in the process of this renovation consisted in fixing Christ’s missing hands as a key element of the composition. The original hands have not survived and, although they were reconstructed in the 19th century, this was incompetent work; this addition was removed in the latest renovation, replacing it with a new one, created in the spirit of Veit Stoss’s sculptures. It is impossible, however, to recreate other missing elements: the sleeping Apostle James, the angel with the cup, whom Christ was facing, or the background depicting the landscape of the olive grove. Most likely, the composition from Ptaszkowa was originally similar to the afore-mentioned panel from Paul Volckamer’s epitaph.

A comparison of the sculpture from the church in Ptaszkowa and a fragment of Paul Volckamer’s epitaph

 

What could the sculpture from Ptaszkowa have been originally?

Even if the relief from Ptaszkowa gives the impression of extreme plasticity, its depth, in fact, is only 11 centimetres! Originally, it was most likely a panel from one of the wings of an altarpiece. The arrangement of the characters appearing in it indicates that this scene could have been located in the upper part of the left wing of the altarpiece. It is not unthinkable that the Crucifixion was the central representation of this altarpiece. The popularity of such iconographic themes in the art of Kraków from the 15th and 16th century is confirmed by works including the Crucifixion tryptych from Zasów (ca. 1460–70, the Diocesan Museum in Tarnów) or the triptych by Jan Olbracht (ca. 1501–1505, the Czartoryski Chapel at the Wawel Cathedral). They replicated the patterns present on sculpted altarpieces devoted to the Passion which were produced, among others, in the Low Countries and Northern Germany.

It is not known to which altarpiece our relief by Stoss belonged – as I have already mentioned, it most likely only arrived at the church in Ptaszkowa in the 1st half of the 19th century. We know from sources that in the 1st half of the 1490s, Veit Stoss made various commissions for St. Mary’s Basilica in Kraków (including a small altar funded by the board of municipal councillors), but we are not able to link the sculpture from Ptaszkowa with certainty to any specific altarpiece.

The Agony in the Garden from St. Florian’s Church in Kraków

The stone relief devoted to Christ’s Agony in the Garden, lapidarium near St. Florian’s Church in Kraków, 2nd quarter of the 18th century, photo M. Łanuszka.

In conclusion, it is worthy of note that the theme of Christ's Agony in the Garden itself has been linked in our consciousness to Late-Gothic art in a very interesting way. This is probably the reason why the remnants of the stone relief with a scene depicting Christ’s Agony in the Garden located in the lapidarium near St. Florian’s Church in Kraków have been identified by researchers as a Late-Gothic monument. The degree to which the sculpture has been damaged prevents us from analysing its stylistic forms, although the preserved fragments of the framing confirm that, contrary to appearances, this work was created two centuries after Veit Stoss had lived in Kraków. The artist crowned the composition with a frame adorned with Régence ornamentation: this means that the Agony in the Garden from St. Florian’s Church in Kraków was only created in the 2nd half of the 18th century! Therefore, we should not link every representation of the Agony in the Garden from Kraków to Veit Stoss or his associates.

Elaborated by Magdalena Łanuszka, PhD

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland.

 

Magdalena Łanuszka, PhD – a graduate of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków with a PhD in the History of Art, a specialist in the Middle Ages. She has cooperated with various institutions: in the field of didactics (giving lectures at, among others, the Jagiellonian University, the Heritage Academy, numerous Universities of the Third Age), research work (including for the University of Glasgow, The Polish Academy of Learning), as well as in popularizing science (e.g. for the Polish National Archives, the National Institute of Museology and Protection of Collections, the National Library, Radio Kraków, and Tygodnik Powszechny). She is the coordinator of the project Art and Heritage in Central Europe at the International Cultural Centre in Kraków as well as the editor-in-chief of the local RIHA Journal. The author of a blog on looking for interesting facts related to art: www.posztukiwania.pl.

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Relief “Agony in the Garden” by Veit Stoss from church of All Saints in Ptaszkowa

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