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This article introduces Jan Białostocki (1921–1988), who is considered the most outstanding Polish art historian, and who belonged to the world’s elite humanist scholars of the twentieth century. Throughout his life, Bialostocki was associated with two institu-tions: the Institute of Art History at the Warsaw University and the National Museum in Warsaw. He lectured at numerous European and American universities. He was a member of several European Academies of Sciences, and Vice–President of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art, Conseil International de la Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines. He also received the Warburg–Preis award. Białostocki was the author of over 500 major scholarly publications, including such fundamental works as: Les Primitifs Flamands: Les Musées de Pologne (1966), Spätmittelalter und beginnende Neuzeit (Propylaen Kunstgeschichte VII, 1972), The Art of the Renaissance in Eastern Europe: Hungary, Bohemia, Poland (1976), and Il Quattrocento nell’ Europa Settentrionale (1989). His main focus was on iconology, which he developed, often arguing with its founder, E. Panofsky. He proposed the modus theory in art history, which made an important impact on Western art literature, as well as the category of “framework theme” (Rahmenthema). Białostocki also put forward a comprehensive vision of the methods of art history. Accordingly, the study of a work of art would include analysing it as: a physical object; a product of technology; a formal structure; a social function (purpose and historical reception). Then an analysis of its genesis would follow: as a product of a historical period, of taste and style; as a product of a particular artistic milieu; as a product of a community; as a product of a concept of art (such as theoretical formulae, or particular views on art); as a product of an artistic personality. The next step should be the analysis of the reception and the works: as an object being judged and evaluated in the history of its Nachleben, as public or private property, as an object of criticism or admiration in literary sources and the social history of taste, as subject to various transformations, manipulations, and finally as subject of a scholarly analysis. Separate from, and very important to Białostocki’s interests, and to which he brought a new outlook, was the problem of the relationship between the center/periphery, metropolitanism/provincialism – he fought with the stereotyped geohistory of European art caught in the paradigm of centralism, Eurocentrism, Italocentrism or Francocentrism.
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Michal Walicki (1904–1966) studied Art History at the University of Warsaw (1924–1929), where he received his doctorate for his dissertation on the murals in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity in the Castle of Lublin (1418), under the guidance of Prof. Zygmunt Batowski. He worked in the Department of Polish Architecture at the Warsaw Technical University, at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts (later the Academy of Fine Arts), at the National Museum, and the Art History Institute of the Warsaw University. In 1933, his earned his habilitation for his thesis on the stylistic development of panel painting in fifteenth–century Poland. During World War II, he participated in the resistance movement; he was arrested (in 1949) and put in prison. After his release (in 1953), he combined work at the Institute of History of Art at the Warsaw University and the State Institute of Art (later the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences). Michał Walicki’s academic activities encompassed a surprisingly wide spectrum of subjects, though his particular field of interest was painting. He had a ‘positivist’ temperament, concerned with a painstaking search for new works of art and the collecting of material, and above all with cataloguing and sharing the collections. In texts written before the war he built a firm foundation for the study of panel painting in fifteenth–century Poland, although his narrow national perspective is now certainly difficult to accept. After his employment at the National Museum in Warsaw, he changed his profile of research, focusing on modern painting (particularly Dutch), but also on the best understood popularization and education through art. After the war, he initiated and coordinated the work on a series of syntheses, setting new standards of quality in Polish academic studies. He belonged to the narrow circle of great humanists who could write about art with passion, in a manner accessible and understandable to all. He developed his own, easily recognizable style, impressionistic in character, well–suited to aesthetic experiences. As an outstanding university lecturer and museum official, he became one of the founders and most important authorities of the Warsaw school of art history, and as a personality had a profound impact on students and friends led by Jan Białostocki. Above all, he instilled in them a broad outlook on matters of art and the importance of publishing in foreign languages.
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A few extraordinary examples of vaults with asymmetrical arrangements of ribs appeared in 1370s Silesia. They were used in fairly regularly planned spaces, which allowed the use of vaults with a symmetrical composition. The most interesting example in this group is the vault in the rectangular council meeting hall in Namysłów’s City Hall. Namysłów’s City Hall was built from 1374–1378 by an unknown builder, the so-called Master Peter. His identification with Wrocław’s (Breslau) master builder Peter, called Rote, from Halle, as suggested by Kurt Bimler, remains hypothetical thus far. In 1378 Master Peter erected in the City Hall one of the most beautiful and probably the oldest preserved irregular vaults, ingeniously constructed from three-rayed ribs, with an added single rib in the south-western corner. This rib and the adjoining triangular vault cell completely disrupt the regularity of the vault’s arrangement. This example from Namysłów was soon to be recreated with minor variations around 1400 (before 1413) in the council chamber of the City Hall of another Silesian town – Środa Śląska. It is not known who the maker of this vault was. Some researchers, in particular Danuta Hanulanka and Małgorzata Niemczyk, have also dated another asymmetrical vault in the rectangular chapel of St. Anne in the parish church of Namysłów to the last quarter of the fourteenth century. Hanulanka also hypothesises that this vault is linked with the activity of Master Peter. Yet the construction of the church in Namysłów started only after 1405, and the chapel of St. Anne was established even later, at the earliest c. 1425, and so the vault cannot be considered one of the oldest asymmetric vaults dating from the late fourteenth century. Between the years 1391–1393, an anonymous architect developed a project to rebuild a merchant house and the town hall in Toruń, Prussia. In the latter, we have two rectangular rooms with vaulted ceilings showing an irregular pattern of ribs. Except for the asymmetry, the vaults in Toruń show no close similarities with the vaults in Namysłów or Środa Śląska. They were considered very unusual in late fourteenth century Baltic countries, and it is impossible to find any local archetypes for them. The concept of the vault in Namysłów by Master Peter bears some similarities to vaults in the side aisles of Corpus Christi Church in Wrocław, dated to 1360–1367. The vaults in the church in Wrocław cannot, however, be considered completely asymmetrical – an axis of symmetry from north to south can be traced across each of the aisles. During the next phase of the church’s construction, after 1390, the side aisles of the choir were erected with vaults which were given a completely irregular composition. The oldest known vault with an irregular pattern of ribs, which unfortunately has not survived, seems to be the vault that was destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century in the former chapel of St. Lawrence, St. Agnes and St. Margaret (now St. Anne) in the parish church of Our Lady in Opawa. The chapel was built from 1372–1373; it was endowed in 1373–1374 by a rich merchant from Opawa called Reynczko, who was later a councillor in that town. Intentionally irregular vaults in relatively regular spaces were a rarity in the fourteenth century. Their unusualness stands out even more if we realize that the most important Central European architectural centres were dominated at the time by a completely opposite trend. The architects working at the court of the King of Bohemia and Germany, Wenceslas IV of Luxembourg, strove to achieve maximum geometric harmony in their vaults. In the Column Hall of Prague Castle in the early 1380s, the symmetrical vault was meant to disguise the irregular floor plan. In the Czech castle Krakovec, built in 1381–1384 by George of Rostock, King Wenceslas’s adviser and courtier, vaults of regular and harmonious composition dominate the irregular projection of the chapel and other rooms. This striving for geometric perfection led to the use of a completely regular composition of the stellar vault in the irregular nave of the royal chapel in the Italian Court in Kutna Hora, built from 1386–1389. The same principles influenced the vault in the so-called Hall of Jadwiga and Jagiello, in the Danish Tower of the royal c astle on Wawel Hill in Kraków, built from 1386–1399. Therefore, Silesian irregular vaults from the 1370s go against the common at that time trend of using perfectly harmonious vaults in order to correct the imperfections of floor plans. The reason for this particular disparity has not yet been elucidated. One can only conclude that the appearance of these specific quirks, these ancient Silesian asymmetric vaults, predated by almost a hundred years the development of similar vaults in other parts of continental Europe.
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Zbigniew Hornung (1903–1981) belonged to the first generation of Polish art historians who specialized in the study of Baroque art. Although he had also engaged with the art of the Renaissance, and published several papers on the major works of art of this period in Poland, his main achievements concern Baroque sculpture, architecture and painting in the former Eastern Borderlands of Poland. Throughout his life, he invariably used the classical method of combining historical and archival research with that of a stylistic and comparative nature, and rescued from oblivion the sculptor Antoni Osiński, the painter Stanislaw Stroiński and the architect Jan de Witte, to whom he dedicated separate monographs. He also published a monograph on the sculptor Pinsel, but did not manage to access all the material on the subject. Together with T. Mańkowski, he should be merited with discovering a new phenomenon in art, on a European scale of importance, namely the Lviv’s Rococo sculpture. It should be noted that although banished from his hometown of Lviv after the war, Hornung spent the second half of his life in Wroclaw, where he re–organized Polish museology and art historical studies and remained faithful to borderland issues. In addition to monographic studies on artists and their works, he also undertook some attempts at syntheses of Renaissance sculpture and Baroque architecture in Poland. The most original and at the same time the most controversial was “The problem of Rococo in church architecture of the eighteenth century”, published in 1972. He had the courage to formulate daring hypotheses which did not always find support, causing heated debates. Insensitive to new methods and changing research fashions, he was primarily interested in the form and not the subject of the work of art. We can see in this a fascination for the Wölfflinian method, but also for abstract art, which was born in his lifetime. Hornung’s research also reveals his aesthetic and patriotic motivation, understandably so for the first generation of citizens of the newly reborn Poland. Due to his faithfulness to his principles, he was considered a conservative, even an outsider, at the end of his life.
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Juliusz Starzyński (1906–1974) was an art historian, poet, playwright and actor, as well as director of three institutes of art; for almost forty years he held numerous academic and administrative positions and yet, today, he is almost unknown. So many far–reaching political, cultural and academic methodological changes have occurred since his death that his works are not read today. He was born in Lviv and attended one of the best secondary schools there. He studied history of art at the University of Warsaw and simultaneously attended the famous Reduta Theatre Institute to study acting, appearing on stage all over Warsaw. After finishing his studies, he concentrated on his academic work, quickly advancing to higher levels. By the time war broke out, he had already been awarded a doctorate and was director of the Institute of Art Propaganda and curator at the National Museum in Warsaw, as well as lecturing in the Department of Architecture at the Polytechnic of Warsaw and at the National Institute of Theatrical Art. He spent the war in a Prisoner of War camp for Polish officers in Murnau near Munich. He returned to Poland in 1946 and almost immediately started work at the University of Warsaw and at the Ministry of Art and Culture. In 1949 he initiated the founding of the State Institute of Art, which was transformed in 1959 into the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IS PAN). Starzyński was director from 1949–1960 and again from 1968–1974. During the Stalin years, he was a supporter of socrealism, but as soon as political pressure began to wane, he abandoned his own published points of view. Internationally, he was very active as a member and deputy chairperson of the International Association of Art Critics. He organised exhibitions of Polish art abroad, among other places, at Art Biennale in Venice. After being dismissed from the position of director of the IS PAN as a result of political conflict with the management, he continued to work there, living in France on scholarships, giving lectures there about correspondance des arts during the Romantic Period, and publishing three books on the subject, two in Polish and one in French. From 1950–1970 he was the director of the Institute of the Art History at the University of Warsaw, where he regularly lectured. From 1966, he was member of the Polish Academy of Sciences. His last book Polska droga do nowoczesności w sztuce (The Polish Road to Modernity in Art), published in 1973, is proof that his views on art and the methods he applied were already, at that time, considered anachronistic. He believed in the romantic–patriotic ethos of national art and sought enduring values in it. Starzyński is today remembered by some as a demagogue of socrealism, by others as a distinguished organiser of academic life during the communist years and above all as someone who helped others, often in difficult matters resulting from the political situation.
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Ksawery Piwocki, (1901–1974) whose scholarly activities occurred during a particularly diffi cult period in Polish history, 1935–1970, was one of the most interesting Polish art historians and organizers of academic life. In his work, he combined an interest in methodology (for instance, as an expert on the concepts of Alois Riegl, and on all the complexities of the nearly century–old dispute about its proper interpretation), with many years of research on non–professional artists, areas of artistic creativity which remained partly on the margins of traditional art history and partly in the ‘no man’s land’ of such disciplines as art history, ethnography and cultural anthropology. Armed with a thorough knowledge of methodology, and starting from the fairly widespread belief in the 1920s and 1930s that the study of the art of the so–called ‘primitives’ would facilitate exploration of the principles of artistic development in general, uncovering the psychological and anthropological origins of creativity, Piwocki researched ‘primitive’ art, reveali ng a fascinating and often surprising relationship between the proposals of modern artists and the trends of the ‘primitives’. It should be emphasized that these studies, which began even before World War II, were completely devoid of any attempt to support them with the theories of race, which was not so obvious at the time. In some ways Piwocki’s popular book “A strange world of modern primitives” was a summary of his investigations, playing in its time a very important role. We must not forget that Ksawery Piwocki was also a well–known organizer of academic life. He was involved in the practice of conservation, becoming an eminent expert on the theory of conservation and restoration of works of art, and greatly contributing to the increase in awareness of these issues in Poland. It is thanks to his efforts that the National Ethnographic Museum was established in Warsaw, whose role in promoting interest in folk, ‘primitive’ and amateur art cannot be overestimated. Combining in his activities the competence of an art restorer, art historian and methodologist, Piwocki remains in the memory of our discipline as a rare example of a researcher for whom there was no gap between the study of art history for its own sake and its embodiment as a living aesthetic and artistic message.
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When describing the Evangelical-Augsburg religious architecture of the 20th and 21st century in the Cieszyn Silesia, it is worth drawing attention to the origins of the boundaries in this historical and geographical region. The Reformation first appeared in Silesia in Wroclaw, where in 1519 Martin Luther’s works were printed, and where in 1545 Prince Waclaw III Adam Pogrobowiec recognized the Augsburg Confession as the official religion of the Duchy of Cieszyn. Unfortunately, when the Habsburgs seized power in the Duchy in the 17th century, a persecution of Lutherans began, which for years afterwards hampered the development of Protestant architecture in the area. The crucial event that fundamentally changed the fate of the local Protestants was the publication in 1781 of the Patent of Tolerance by Joseph II. It contained detailed regulations for the building of Protestant places of worship, which influenced the shape and the aesthetics of local Evangelical churches until the 20th century. The beginning of the last century saw some new projects of a liturgical character. The neo-Gothic chapel of ease in Bogumin, designed by J. Leisching and built in 1901, was one of the first Evangelical-Augsburg churches erected in Cieszyn Silesia. The Evangelical cemetery chapel in Dębowiec was also constructed in the neo-Gothic style, as the latter became non-denominational from the end of the 19th century. The large scale of the building (consecrated in 1912) designed by Karol Majeranowski made it possible for regular Sunday services to take place in the chapel. Another significant architectural addition was the new Evangelical cemetery in Bielsko, designed by H. Mayr. During the interwar period, the well-organized Silesian-Cieszyn Lutheran community built many new chapels and churches. In the 1920s and 1930s, several large cemetery chapels were erected in the Cieszyn diocese. Their scale was well beyond the sepulchral requirements of the times. Worth mentioning are the chapels in Godziszów, Simoradz, and Kozakowice Dolne. Their architecture attests to the fact that the Evangelical-Augsburg community has long been faithful to traditional designs dating back to the 18th century. In the interwar period, new churches of considerable size were erected in Cieszyn Silesia. Most were built in the part of the region situated on the Czechoslovak side. The two most outstanding churches, the German Evangelical church in Rozwoj, and the Silesian Evangelical- -Augsburg church in Niwy, were erected in Český Těšín. Their architecture recalls neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architecture. Despite the rather conservative tastes of the Silesian-Cieszyn Evangelical-Augsburg diaspora, the architect T. Michejda made a successful synthesis of modernism and “the national style” in the Evangelical church in Istebna (consecrated in 1930). On the other hand, in his Evangelical- -Augsburg church in Trzanowice, Michejd minimised the details of the façade to create a building in the international style of the 1930s. After the Second World War, the Evangelical-Augsburg architecture of the years 1948–1956 in Cieszyn Silesia returned to the artistic language known for decades, which recalled the archetypal designs of patent churches. Examples of this design are in Wieszczęta- Kowale and Olbrachcice. The first positive change in the attitude towards the avant-garde solutions can be seen in the buildings erected by the Evangelicals in the 1960s. The most important churches built or designed in this decade were in Cierlick (by B. Firla) and in Wisla Czarne (by K. Kozieł). The Evangelical-Augsburg church in Wisła Czarne (1970) introduced a series of churches linked to the critical regionalism. The Evangelical-Augsburg church in Cisowinica, consecrated in 1981, is an example of the evolution of this concept. Stanisław Kwaśniewicz and Edward Kisiel were representatives of yet another concept of designing churches in the period of late modernism in Cieszyn Silesia. Kwaśniewicz applied expressionist forms in the Evangelical-Augsburg chapel in Bażanowice, while Kisiel combined expressionism and regional contextualism in the churches in Puków and Cieszyn Marklowice. The Protestant architecture of the Cieszyn Silesia created in the more recent years recalls postmodernist forms yet is still firmly grounded in the local tradition. Some of the newer churches are, however, a warning sign of the dangers of losing moderation typical of Protestant architecture. Only time will tell if this is a durable trend or a momentary “straying” of the Silesian-Cieszyn Evangelicals.
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The Evangelical-Augsburg Cemetery was established in 1792 in the village of Wielka Wola near Warsaw on Młynarska Street. It was probably designed by the architect Szymon Bogumił Zug. From the mid-19th century the cemetery aroused much admiration for its appearance. The site was carefully maintained and covered with lush vegetation. It contained many fine tombstones executed by the most outstanding sculptors from Warsaw. Among those was Paweł Maliński, Professor of the Sculpture Department at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Warsaw and his pupil Jakub Tatarkiewicz. Both studied under Bertel Thorvaldsen in Rome. Another talented sculptor whose works could be found in the cemetery was Konstanty Hegel, a former pupil of the Academy of St. Luke and the French Academy in Rome. The necropolis also contained funeral monuments made by the stone-carving workshops of Warsaw. This article aims to introduce about 30 of the most interesting funeral monuments executed in the first 60 years of the history of the Warsaw cemetery. The oldest tombstones preserved in the churchyard are eclectic works drawing from Baroque art. An interesting tombstone is that of Anna Regina Kilemann (d. 1793), modelled on Johann Augustus Nahl’s funeral monument for Mary Magdalene Langhans, and dated 1753. The cenotaphs in this group show some elements traditionally used in the early modern sepulchral sculpture – the carved figure of the deceased; the shape of the sarcophagus; the motif of the gate; or the obelisk on a pedestal. The fantasy form is often adorned with neoclassical decoration. The types of tombstones widely used in the Evangelical-Augsburg Cemetery in Warsaw show a mourner (a weeper), a genius angel or an allegorical figure holding an upside-down burning torch. One of the finest is the headstone executed for Krystian Gotthilf Helbing’s grave (d. 1845), decorated with the sculpted personification of Death executed by Paweł Maliński. Konstanty Hegel, on the other hand, displays the sculpted personification of the Evangelical community on the gravestone of Samuel Leopold Neumann (d. 1844), shown there as a Mourner. Whereas Jakub Tatarkiewicz made several sculpted busts for family mausoleums, including that of the lexicographer Samuel Linde (d. 1847), and the physicians Wilhelm Malcz (d. 1852) and Karol Henryk Kühnel (d. 1836). In addition to the classicist gravestones inspired by Greek and Roman antiquity, there are also neo-Gothic monuments and those inspired by ancient Egypt in the cemetery, for instance the pyramid-shaped tomb commemorating Jan Riedel (d. 1808). Moreover, there are many burial chapels (mausoleums) on Młynarska Street, and four of these deserve a special mention. The first one is the monumental Halpert Chapel dated 1834, representing templum in antis in the Doric order of the Roman variety. The second one is the Skwarcov Chapel dated 1851, distinguished by its oriental decoration in the Old Russian-Arabic style. The third one is a cast-iron openwork mausoleum of the Braeunig family (1821), considered one of the most elegant mausoleums in the cemetery, probably from Germany. Another chapel worth mentioning is the Dückert mausoleum (1828), a Polish example of the Greek Revival style. The funeral monuments in the Evangelical-Augsburg Cemetery in Warsaw commemorate well-known scholars, doctors, military people, merchants, bankers, industrialists, and owners of important real estates. Many of these people were deserving figures not only in the borough, but in the whole of Warsaw. Their place of burial in the Evangelical-Augsburg cemetery can be seen as an important point on the map of the city. It testifies to the multiculturalism of the capital of Poland and the Lutheran inhabitants, and is a gallery of sculpture reflecting all the styles and trends in art.
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In the mid-17th century on the outskirts of the capitals of the hereditary Duchies of Silesia – Glogow, Jawor and Świdnica – Lutheran churches were erected known as the Churches of Peace, now considered the largest Baroque timber-framed ecclesiastical buildings in Europe. Their advent was the result of a particular political and religious situation which existed in Silesia during the early modern era, since it was absorbed into the Habsburg monarchy in 1526. This period of time was also the beginning of the Protestant Reformation which found many supporters among the Silesians. Lutheranism soon became the dominant religion in Silesia. Religious differences between the sovereign and the subjects led to constant tensions that worsened during the Thirty Years’ War. According to the provisions of the Peace of Westphalia (hence the name of the churches), Evangelists could worship in only three new churches in the Duchies, which were to be raised at their own expenses from clay and wood. All the other places of worship were taken away from them. The authorities intended the Churches of Peace to reflect the position of Protestant communities within the existing political realities – simple utilitarian buildings not solid or durable, which in ideological terms should not compete with the monumental Catholic architecture in the towns near which they were erected. These limitations can be seen as the reason the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica have an interesting décor. The present paper discusses the church in Świdnica, and the historic transformation of its décor and furnishings from the mid-17th to the mid-18th century. The church’s interior included wall and ceiling paintings, woodcarvings of the window sills in the matronea and the loges, liturgical furnishings such as the late Baroque altar (1752–1753), the organ front (1776–1784), the confessional (18th century), the Baroque pulpit (1729), and the Mannerist baptismal font (1661). Furthermore, some epitaphs, heraldic shields, guild emblems, paintings, liturgical utensils, money boxes and other smaller objects associated with the Protestant worship also survived the ravages of time. Numerous seats have also been preserved such as benches, loges and stools. The iconographic programme of the church interior initiated at the end of the 17th century by the ceiling decorations refers to the name of the church, but also evokes the associations with the Temple of Solomon and the dwelling of God among his people. The church’s original architecture which was largely based on practical considerations served as a framework over which with time new “semantic layers” were applied. These were formulated not only in terms of fine arts but also music, including church songs, thanks to the two organ fronts and the word of God preached. They all refer to the same imagery as paintings and sculptures and are deeply embedded in the so-called Baroque Protestant symbolism. What is striking, alongside the unity of its content, is the adhesion to the forms of expression combining text and image in the emblematic tradition. All this makes us see the Church of Peace in Świdnica as a “Gesamtkunstwerk”, although in the past the unity of time in creation was usually observed. In Świdnica the situation is different. As a result of almost three generations of artistic undertakings, the interior has a unique, consistent, and coherently formulated ideological programme, erudi te, even if largely devoid of high artistic quality.
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The origins and development of the old settlement of Konradsgrün (now Jáchymov) were linked to the discovery and exploitation of silver ore in nests and veins. As a result of the dynamic growth of this new centre which was of an urban nature, in 1520 the Czech King Ludwik Jagiello granted it the city rights and the status of a free mining town. In the following years, the centre was granted the Mining Act (Bergordnung) from the noble Šlik family, modelled on the Annaberg Act. It defined the rights of miners and regulated the technical and organizational exploitation of silver. The richness of the land allowed for a dynamic expansion of the mining centre and the establishment of a mint by the Šliks. The rapid growth of the mines was due to the high content of silver in the exploited veins, as well as their ready availability. Affluent immigrant families, which originated from other parts of the Kingdom of Bohemia and from Germany, began to build substantial houses in the new town. These people, often coming from various regions of Germany, continued to maintain close contacts with their families, friends and business partners from outside the Kingdom of Bohemia. Many arrived from the lands of Saxony, where at that time Martin Luther’s Reformation enjoyed considerable popularity. Both the mayors of Jáchymov and the German-speaking gentry/nobility who settled in the Kingdom of Bohemia supported these reforms, with the Šlik, Salhausen, and the von Bünau families at the forefront. These families settled in the north-western part of Bohemia, where as a result the Reformation became widespread, primarily led by Luther’s supporters. This fact is evident in the numerous epitaphs, altarpieces and chapels found in the area (in Loket, Jáchymov, Krupka, Benešov and Ploučnica). In the first half of the 16th century, the churches of St. Jáchym and All Saints Church in Jáchymov saw the creation of such artworks as the painted epitaph of Ruprecht Pullacher, the St. Mary’s altarpiece of Heinrich Könneritz’s and his wife Barbara nee Breitenbach’s foundation, and the (now fragmented) altarpiece showing St. Christopher. Most paintings in the St. Jáchym Church, such as Ruprecht Pullacher’s epitaph, burnt down in the city fire in 1873, are only known from descriptions. The surviving works testify to the great religious freedom enjoyed during the first years of the town’s life. It was only around the middle of the 16th century, that Johannes Mathesius created the ethos of Jáchymov as a Lutheran town right from the beginning. The political situation in the Kingdom of Bohemia in the second half of the century was favourable to the coexistence of the two religions, Catholic and Lutheran, reflected in the religious art of the period. However, on the basis of the preserved epitaphs it is not possible to establish if strictly Catholic works were created in Jáchymov. The discussed epitaphs of Georg Pullacher and the Uthmann-Lerchenfelder family executed in the 1590s reflect Protestant ideas. The image of Christ’s resurrection was both the expression of hope for future resurrection and eternal life, as well as a public confession of faith on the part of the members of the Lerchenfelder and Uthmann families. A profound faith in the resurrection was also echoed in Christ’s deposition featuring on Georg Pullacher’s epitaph. The work referred to the Holy Scriptures and quoted individual passages from the Bible. Inscriptions present on the painted epitaphs provided a synthesis of the main theological principles. They were a public confession of faith of the deceased to their relatives and descendants, as is illustrated by Ruprecht Pullacher’s (Georg’s father) family portrait. Other aspects strictly related to the re-catholicization are revealed by the transformation of St. Mary’s altarpiece into an epitaph altarpiece in the 17th century.
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