Franz Gregor Ignaz Eckstein and his work in Lwow and Cracow
Hayes, Kathleen (Translator of Summary)
Source document: Opuscula historiae artium. 2009, vol. 53, iss. F53, pp. -123
ISSN1211-7390 (print)2336-4467 (online)
License: Not specified license
The article treats two frescoes by the Brno painter Franz Gregor Ignaz Eckstein (1689?-1741) in a Piarist church in Cracow (1727 and c.1733) and in a Jesuit church in Lwow (1739-1740). These frescoes are examples of the high and late phase in the work of Franz Eckstein, who was an important practitioner of quadratura (architectural painting) in Moravia in the first half of the 18th century. -- Eckstein's work for the Piarist Church of the Transfiguration in Cracow took place in two stages. In the autumn of 1727 he painted an illusionistic altar in the apse of the choir; it was connected with the real architecture of the central altar niche. Eckstein's painted columnal retable is set in the architecture and uses illusion to deepen the wall of the apse. It was inspired by several of Andrea Pozzo's designs published in the popular treatise Perspectivaepictorum atque architectorum (1693 and 1700). The altar painting on the theme of the Transfiguration is a continuation of the painted altar scene, which depicts God the Father speaking to the figures of the apostles. Eckstein painted the nave of the Piarist church around 1733. The theme of the painting is the Celebration of the Catholic Church, represented by an allegorical iconographic scheme. The main scene is closely connected with the consecration of the church and thus with the theme of the altar painting. The architectural frame for the main scene was based on Pozzo's painting in the Jesuit Church of Sanť Ignazio in Rome. Eckstein, however, simplified the Roman model and adapted it to suit the smaller dimensions of the building. -- It was most likely in 1739 that Eckstein began to work on the fresco decoration of the vaults in the choir and nave of the Jesuit Church of SS Peter and Paul in Lwow. As the painter's signature indicates, he completed work on the nave in 1740. The paintings employ the traditional Jesuit symbolism emphasising the spread of Christianity and the cult of the name of Jesus. But the reál leitmotif of the decoration is salvation through Christianity, accentuated in several separate scenes from the lives of SS Peter and Paul. In the overall design of the painting decoration one can see a distinctive combination of diverse inspirations. The design of the quadratura is based on various decorative and structural features assembled into a distinctive whole. Several minor details, as well as the method of perspective projection, show the clear influence of the work of Andrea Pozzo. Eckstein also drew on the models published in Paulus Decket's handbook Furstlicher Baumeister oder Architektura Civilis, which he had often employed in his earlier commissions. -- The decoration of the Piarist church in Cracow is a typical example of perspectival architecture, influenced by Pozzo, in Ecksteirťs work. Eckstein had already used a similar design in several of his executed works, most recently in the painting of the Marian pilgrimage church on Cvilín at Krnov in 1726 and 1727. By contrast, the overall style of the Lwow painting differs from Ecksteirn's previous work. Unfortunately, none of Eckstein's frescoes from the late 1730s have been preserved, so one cannot trace the development of his painting style in the late period. To a certain extent, the distinct stylistic divergence may be explained by crude repainting and attempts at restoration at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. This question, however, can only be clarified with further restoration work.
- In memoriam Zdeňce Lukešové.