Artworks Catalogue

Parish and Monastery Church St Augustine, nave with pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
St Augustine, pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
Bench end, string type A with cherub (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
Bench end, string type B with female head (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
Facing of the backside with balusters, figural reliefs and female head (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)

Location

Austria, Vienna

Parish and Monastery Church St Augustine (Augustinerkirche)

Original location:

Austria, Vienna

Benedictine Abbey Church Our Lady of Monteserrato (Schwarzspanierkirche)

Artwork

The pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche in Vienna

Type

Pew

Dimensions

Height: 111,5 cm, width: 287 cm, depth: 101 cm

Critical History

The pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche is attributed to Johann Baptist Straub since Johann Caspar Lippert published the earliest biography of the artist in 1772.1 The abbot of the Benedictine Monastery de Monteserrato in Vienna, P. Anton Vogl von Krallern ordered the wooden interior decoration, the church pews and the pulpit of the abbey church in 1730, when Straub was 26 years old. This commission was the first he undertook on his own, probably he employed also his younger brother Philipp Jakob, who stayed with him in Vienna from 1727 to 1733. Johann Baptist returned to Munich in winter 1734/35, which sets the date of the completion of his work. The consecration of the church was in 1739. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Emperor Joseph II. in 1784, the former Abbey Church Our Lady of Monteserrato was profaned, the furniture and artwork dispersed. At about that time court-architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg was renovating the monastery church St Augustine situated within the imperial palace area of Vienna, the church pews were brought there 1784 by personal order of Emperor Joseph II.2

The finely carved and decorated wooden pews show alternating decorations on the bench ends: sting type A with a cherub on top, sting type B with a female head under the segmental arch, topped with foliage and volutes. Prominent volutes mark the corner elements and lead over to the adjoining balusters of the facing, which also feature rich floral decoration and foliage. Three balusters, the central one with large female busts on top divide the facing in two and frame the figural reliefs. Eight reliefs are decorated with bundled trophies of cult objects and liturgical vestments from the Old and the New Testament. The other eight reliefs follow a complex topological programme and depict scenes from both testaments: The Binding of Isaac (Gen 22,1), The Burnt Offering by Noah (Gen 22,8), Moses Striking Water from the Rock (Ex 17,1), Moses Erecting the Bronze Serpent (Num 21,8), The Disputation (Lk 2,41), The Cleansing of the Temple (Mt 21,12; Mk 11,5; Lk 19,46), Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (Joh 8,3) and Christ's Charge to Peter (Mt 16,16). The scenes from Old and New Testament are not corresponding directly and therefore it is not possible to reconstruct the original setting of the pewage in the former abbey church of Monte Serrato as Gerhard P. Woeckel argued erroneously. According to Peter Steiner it is even possible that some scenes are missing.3

Steiner considered a participation of Johann Baptist’s younger brother Philipp Jakob likely, especially regarding the figural reliefs and the cherubs; he refered to his early work in Graz, like the reliefs for the Stadtpfarrkirche. At the same time, Horst Schweigert also pointed to the striking resemblance of Philipp Jakob's early reliefs in Graz to his brother’s commission for the Schwarzspanierkirche.4 In contrast to Johann Baptist Straub's other artworks of that time in Vienna, the pewage is described as nearest to Viennese tradition by Peter Volk.5 They may be compared to the church pews of St Peter (Matthias Steinl, 1716) or St Charles Borromeo (Claude Le Fort du Plessy, about 1730/35) in Vienna.

Construction / Execution

The baroque pews were installed in the nave of the gothic church in four units or blocks, each with six rows. The benches, bench ends and facings of the wooden pewage with carved reliefs and figural decoration are made of hardwood, walnut with dark varnish, on the long prie-dieu are brass candleholders; the kneelers and the wooden platform – both made of softwood – seem newer than the walnut parts. Michael Bohr suggest that they were replaced at least once.6

Components

Carpentry
Author: Johann Baptist Straub (Wiesensteig ca. 1704 – Munich 1784)
Completed: 1730 – 1734
Patron(s): Anton Vogl von Krallern, abbot
Technique(s): sawing
Material(s): wood
Sculpture
Author: Johann Baptist Straub (Wiesensteig ca. 1704 – Munich 1784)
Completed: 1730 – 1734
Patron(s): Anton Vogl von Krallern, abbot
Technique(s): wood carving
Material(s): wood

Conservation-restoration

1996

Strategy: preserving varnish

Approach to the presentation of losses

Reconstruction of losses: partial

Treatment Description

Restoration of the pewage 1996 BDA Wien, Augustinerkirche, Akt 2842, 3, restorer Franz Bauer. Only inappropriate restorations should be removed, the surface preserved. According to Michael Bohr Bauer complemented the head of an angel, that Gerhard P. Woeckel described as missing, probably lost before 1973.7

Images

  1. Parish and Monastery Church St Augustine, nave with pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
  2. St Augustine, pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
  3. Bench end, string type A with cherub (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
  4. Bench end, string type B with female head (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
  5. Facing of the backside with balusters, figural reliefs and female head (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)
  6. Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (Julia Strobl, Vienna, 2018)

Catalogue entry prepared by Julia Strobl

Recommended citation: Julia Strobl, The pewage of the former Schwarzspanierkirche in Vienna, in: TrArS – Tracing the Art of the Straub Family, 2018, (accessed 25/06/2019) URL

Sources and Bibliography

  1. Johann Caspar Lippert, Kurzgefaßte Nachricht von dem churbaierischen ersten Hofbildhauer Herrn Johannes Straub, in: Augsburgisches monatliches Kunstblatt. Kunstzeitung der kaiserlichen Akademie zu Augsburg, 1772, Nr. 54f
  2. Archive of the Scot's monastery, Regierungsverordnung vom 29. Juli 1784 an Abt Benno Pointner betreffend der Überlassung der Kirchenbänke an St. Augustin, Scr. 80/12h, Vienna, 1784
  3. Parish Archive St Augustin, Pfarrprotokollbuch, Vienna, 1783–1785
  4. Cölestin Wolfsgruber, Die Hofkirche zu S. Augustin in Wien, Augsburg, Dr. Max Huttler & Cie, 1888
  5. Cölestin Rapf, Das Benediktinerstift zu Wien „Unserer Lieben Frau von Monte serrato“ – Schwarzspanierkloster, in: Studien und Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Benediktiner-Ordens und seiner Zweige, 77, Bayerische Benediktinerakademie (ed.), Ottobeuren, Kommissionsverlag Winfried-Werk, 1966, 15–73
  6. Gerhard P. Woeckel, Das aus der Schwarzspanierklosterkirche St. Mariä stammende Kirchengestühl in der Augustinerpfarrkirche in Wien und sein von Johann Baptist Straub geschnitzter Reliefzyklus, in: Alte und moderne Kunst, 18, 1973, 22–28
  7. Peter Steiner, Johann Baptist Straub (Münchner kunsthistorische Abhandlungen, VI), München und Zürich, Verlag Schnell & Steiner, 1974
  8. Horst Schweigert, Zur Frage der ehemaligen barocken Innenausstattung der Stadtpfarrkirche in Graz, in: Historisches Jahrbuch der Stadt Graz, 5/6, 1974, 89–117
  9. Peter Volk, Johann Baptist Straub 1704–1784, München, Hirmer Verlag, 1984
  10. University of Vienna, Franziska Hlatky, Kirchenmöbel des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts in Wien, Doctoral Thesis, Vienna, 2003
  11. University of Vienna, Julia Strobl, Die Wiener Schwarzspanierkirche und ihre barocke Ausstattung, Master’s Thesis, Vienna, 2016
  12. Michael Bohr, Sakralmöbel aus Österreich. Von Tischlern und ihren Arbeiten im Zeitalter des Absolutismus. I: Östliche Landesteile, Vienna/Cologne/Weimar, Böhlau Verlag, 2017

Notes

1 Johann Kasper Lippert, 1772, 54: „[…] Um eben diese Zeit wurde daselbst von dem damaligen Prälaten des Klosters, de Monte Serrato genannt, mit dem neuen Kirchen= und Klosterbau der Anfang gemacht, und Herr Straub im 26. Jahr seines Alters zu der erforderlichen Bildhauerarbeit bestimmet. Er machte auf den Hochaltar eine Madonna in der Größe derjenigen, welche in Spanien zu Monte serrato verehrte wird; ferner die Oratorien; die sehr schöne Kanzel, und andere erhabene Arbeiten und Verzierungen, die in dieser Kirche noch heute zu sehen sind.[...].“

2 Parish Archive St Augustin, Pfarrprotokollbuch 1783–1785, 182–183: transfer of organ, pulpit and church pews; Schottenarchiv Scr. 80/12h, government ordinance from July 29th 1784 to Abbott Benno Pointner regarding the transfer of the church pews to S Augustine; Cölestin Wolfsgruber, 1888, 17–25; Cölestin Rapf, 1966, 58–59.

3 There are also some disagreements regarding the iconography, especially regarding The Burnt Offering by Noah and Christ’s Charge to Peter, see: Julia Strobl, 2016, 160–166; Gerhard P. Woeckel, 1973,  22–24; Peter Steiner, 1974, 40. Woeckel’s theory that the pewage was located in the former presbytery is not reasonable either.

4 Peter Steiner, 1974, 36–41; Horst Schweigert, 1974, 108–109.

5 Peter Volk, 1984, 17–18.

6 Michael Bohr, 2017, 141–142.

7 Gerhard P. Woeckel, 1973, 24: "Ursprünglich waren es 14 Stück, eines ist im Lauf der Zeit verlorengegangen."