Austria, Styria, Ehrenhausen
Austria, Parish and Pilgrimage Church of Our Lady of Sorrows ((Pfarr- und Wallfahrtskirche Schmerzhafte Mutter Maria))
The sculptures on the façade of the Parish Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Ehrenhausen
- “Ist haeC sIt tIbI DoLorosa Matri saCra” (cartouche beneath the Pietà with chronogram 1754)
The ground stone of the new parish church of Ehrenhausen was layed in April 1751 under the patronage of the noble family Eggenberg-Leslie and in 1753 the building must have been finished for the greater part.1 The payments in 1752 and 1753 well documented in the parish archives comfirm this state of the construction progress.2 So far, no evidence has been found in the archives to identify the architect. Numerous attributions based on stylistic similarities were suggested by different researchers, for example Joseph Hueber, Johann Georg Stengg, both from Graz, or Johann Fuchs and Josef Hoffer from Maribor. 3 The consecration of the parish and pilgrimage church of Our Lady of Sorrows was held on July 5, 1754, which date is also memorised by the chronogramme on the pedestal of the Pietà on the façade above the main entrance (Ins. 1).
The sculptures on the façade were attributed to Philipp Jakob Straub,4 but the recently found archival sources prove that their author was actually his brother Joseph Straub, who lived in Maribor.5 As a stonemason, Antonio Bombosi (Bombasi), also from Maribor, is mentioned.6 In 1758 linseed oil and lead white was purchased and it was probably used for coating the sculptures on the façade.7
The faces of St Peter and St Paul show significant characteristics of Joseph Straub's personal style: curly hair and beard, big, half open and almond shaped eyes (compare the sculpture of St Peter with the sculpture of St Joachim from Studenci, which is a documented work of Joseph Straub). There are also certain similarities that these statues have in common with the sculptures in minorite church in Ptuj (also documented work of Joseph Straub), namely the creases on the lower hem of the drapery and open sleeves. Finally, the fluttering effect of the drapery and the “holes” in the drapery are significant hallmarks of Joseph Straub personal style. The sculpture of Virgin Mary is a typical female saint of Joseph Straub. The hairstyle, almond shaped eyes and a round chin are the details that may also be observed on the sculptures of St Anne and St Elisabeth from Studenci. The rocaille decoration on the façade is also similar with the ornamentation on the Joseph Straub`s altars. Therefore, besides the archival sources, the stylistic analysis also confirms Joseph Straub as the author.
Construction / Execution
The decoration of the façade, consisting of monumental figural sculptures on pedestals, a coat of arms and vases, was made of sandstone. St Peter (left) and St Paul (right) are flanking the church façade on two lateral high pedestals, about middle height of the lower storey. In the central gable two putti are holding the alliance coat of arms Eggenberg–Leslie, directly beneath the main group in the attics, a Pietà (Our Lady of Sorrows) with St Dismas (left) and probably St Luke (right). Above the volutes we find two more saints: on the left side an apostle, probably St John and on the right side St Mary Magdalene.8 The figures in the attics are barely visible from beneath, nevertheless the sculptor gave a special attention to the details, like the tears on the face of Virgin Mary.
- Author: Joseph Straub (Wiesensteig 1712 – Maribor 1756)
- Completed: ca. 1752 – ca. 1756
- Patron(s): Maria Charlotte of Eggenberg , noble; Maria Theresia Josepha of Eggenberg, noble; Cajetan Count Leslie , noble
- Technique(s): stone carving
- Material(s): sandstone
The sculptures in the attics suffered more damage because of their exposure to weather conditions. In June 2018, the restoration works started.
Strategy: removing dirt, removing partial repairs
The restoration of the sandstone sculptures are undertaken by sculptor Anna Zottmann, Restaurierwerkstatt Zottmann, Gratwein-Straßengel; Hubert Schwarz, Graz, is responsible for the work on the façade, removing loose parts, cleaning and rendering.
- Ehrenhausen, Parish and Pilgrimage Church Our Lady of Sorrows, north façade (photo by Julia Strobl, 2018)
- Ehrenhausen, Our Lady of Sorrows, Pietà with chronogramme cartouche (photo by Julia Strobl, 2018)
- Ehrenhausen, Our Lady of Sorrows, alliance coat of arms Eggenberg-Leslie in the pediment (photo by Julia Strobl, 2018)
- Ehrenausen, Our Lady of Sorrows, figural group in the attic
- Ehrenhausen, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Peter, left side of the north façade (photo by Julia Strobl, 2018)
- Ehrenhausen, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Paul, right side of the north façade (photo by Julia Strobl, 2018)
Catalogue entry prepared by Valentina Pavlič and Julia Strobl
Recommended citation: Valentina Pavlič and Julia Strobl, The sculptures on the façade of the Parish Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Ehrenhausen, in: TrArS – Tracing the Art of the Straub Family, 2018, (accessed 13/07/2020) URL