2019 / 5 / 3

A newly-discovered work in the œuvre of Franz Anton Straub

The œuvre of Franz Anton, the youngest member of the Straub family, recently grew to include another work. Apart from the high altar in the Franciscan church in Kostajnica and the pulpit in the then Franciscan church in Marija Gorica, Straub's name has so far not been associated with other monastic orders.

However, in her research Martina Ožanić, PhD art historian in the Croatian team of the project Tracing the Art of the Straub Family, has identified another work that was hitherto "hiding" in literature under attribution to an unknown Pauline sculptor. The two sculptures, St Nicodemus and St Mary Magdalene, originally from the Pauline monastery church in Remete not far from Zagreb, are today kept in the parish church in Sveti Petar Čvrstec. Despite the numerous documents and carefully kept chronicles in Pauline monasteries, archival sources about these sculptures (that is, about altar of the Suffering Christ from which they probably originated) are very modest. It is assumed that they were made in about 1760 and the person who might have contracted the work, or perhaps who just encouraged the construction, was once more the Bishop of Zagreb Franjo Thauszy, who especially revered the Lady of Remete and often went there, so it is not impossible that he recommended Franz Anton should make a new altar.

The stylistic and comparative analysis of these fine sculptures show compelling affinity with other works created by him. Their triangularly shaped faces with small, full lips, sadly positioned eyes, spirally twisted beard and hair, broad shoulders, and the shaping of the drapery and muscles with pronounced details, invoke a memory of, for example, similar shaping of the figure of St John the Evangelist in Prepolno. Details on the figure of St Mary Magdalene with a strong cylindrical neck or the snake-like twist of hair falling on her shoulder are related to the statue of St Mary Magdalene in Prepolno, and the gesture with the handkerchief that the grieving Mary Magdalene uses to wipe tears from her face are similar to an analogous solution on the sculpture of the right-hand angel on the altar of the manor chapel in Lužnica. The sculpted figures with markedly curving bodies show similarities with the sculptures of saints on the lateral altars in Kloštar Ivanić.

Martina Ožanić published her considerations in the journal Peristil, and more details can be found in the catalogue unit in our online catalogue.

Photos: Croatian Conservation Institute, Goran Tomljenović, 2019