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St Paul


Statuettes

Display of statuettes

The term stamping or chasing is in the case of this masterful medieval work not quite appropriate. The thin silver plate of a high purity is shaped here by means of matrixes of wood and binder, on which the material is pressed - constricted with wooden and metal tools. It enables to sculpture broken high moldings without breaking the applied thin-gauge material. This technique (forgotten as early as in the Middle Ages) is described in the book Theophilus presbyter, schedula diversarum artium. The verbatim translation - in the chapter de opere ductili - sounds: coined works. The statuettes and relievo on the shrine of St Maurus belong by their quality outright to the best sculptures made in context of the medieval goldsmith's.

On the shrine there are set the statuettes of the apostles with mostly newly-made attributes:

Side II: the apostles 1-6
1. St Simon - the saw
2. St James the Less - the book
3. St Bartholomew - the knife
4. St Judas Thadeus - the staff
5. St Thomas - the book
6. St Matthew - the quill, the book

Side IV: the apostles 1-6
1. St Andrew - the X-shaped cross
2. St James the Great - the pouch on cane (pilgrim's staff)
3. St Matthias - the axe
4. St Philip - the cross
5. St John - the chalice
6. St Peter - the keys, the book

They probably did not originate at the same time. In comparison with other excellent and precious shrines, their compositional craft excels, the vivacity of the design, the spirited display of the portraits, the splendid and inventive lines of the drapery. These masterful works gave the restorers the idea to process a very detailed photo-documentation with utilizing of a macro objective and a microscope. The classical chaser technique by means of the fine hammer was utilized only to etch in the details like the eyes, the crimps, or the elaboration of the profile of the drapery. Not until the final stage of the work gilding under fire was done. The surface of the molding was glazed in the end by means of steel burnisher - so-called "Stahl". For their fragility, sculpture and relievo were filled by the binder in order to resist possible shocks. The surface carries lot of such strokes, which is understandable, considering the antiquity of the shrine and its use at processions. Most vulnerable were the overhanging parts - the hands molded into free space. They are preserved in original only in the statuette of St Matthew and probably in that of St Peter. In the course of times, as derogated they were gradually repaired and completed. Most renovation work, however the worst, was fulfilled in the last century. From today's criteria of restoring the aforementioned controversial complements mismatched for many reasons. They correspond to standards neither with the sorts of alloys nor by the form, where the problem is in the not very precise concurrence to the mould of the original parts. The sculptural aspect is also problematical - the naive mould complements from the last century make a very controversial impression.

In the last century probably occurred the wrong filling of the sculpture with plaster, which owing to dampness enlarged its size and amplified the extent of fissures.

The cycle of the stamped medallions

The circular relievo grips the attention primarily by the unusual compositional frolicsomeness, with employing the imaginative abbreviations for depiction of the action. Gestures of the figures are sensitively captured and even in such a small space have the expressions of the faces their characteristics.

Side I: relievo 1-6
1. John the Baptist and Herod - John the Baptist chastises Herod for living with his brother´s wife Herodias
2. Imprisonment of John the Baptist
3. Dance of Salome - dancing Salome (the Herod´s step-daughter) at the feast
4. Herodias´s exhortation of Salome
5. Salome carries John the Baptist´s head
6. Burial of John the Baptist

Side III: relievo 1-6
1. St Timothy blesses St Maurus
2. St Timothy preaches (in Rheims?)
3. St Maurus baptizes St Apollinaire
4. St Peter blesses St Timothy
5. Lampadius condemning St Timothy to death
6. Decapitation of St Timothy and his companions

 

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