Gilding sculptures in sacral spaces and the baroque imagination in the age of the Theresian reforms
Source document: Opuscula historiae artium. vol. 66, iss. 2, pp. 182-195
ISSN1211-7390 (print)2336-4467 (online)
License: Not specified license
The study analyses two bundles of official documents from the Moravian Provincial Archive in Brno and the Provincial Archive in Opava that emerged in the connection with the Verordnung über die Einfuhr fremder Industrie-Erzeugniße decree issued by Empress Maria Theresa in 1749. Because the law prohibited the application of gilding to works of art in sacral buildings, the state authorities were often in the position of having to make decisions on the many applications submitted by parishes, church dignitaries, and laypersons to be granted an exemption. In this process they frequently had to resolve aesthetic and ethical questions and problems that in the church sphere only became more pertinent later on, in the 1780s, during the Enlightenment reforms of Emperor Joseph II. The requests for exemptions reveal that the gilding on works of art in sacral buildings was regarded as a quality in its own right that was difficult to separate, for example, from the value and quality of the artistic work. As well as such aesthetic categories as honour and respect, the applicants also assigned key importance to the universal aesthetic and ethical order and formal unity of a work, qualities associated with harmony and the sublime, two other aesthetic categories typical of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It is also, however, possible to newly find in sources from the middle of the 18th century concepts that were emerging from modern empirical philosophy and art criticism and to observe a transformation of the existing system of values, including a new understanding of the concept of luxury and its economic value. The archive sources indicate the continuation of the early modern perception of the value of a work of art within the context of a universal symbolic order, but they also reveal early signs of the Enlightenment's 'disenchantment of the world' and of the shift where the old way of trying to understand the world's mysteries, the creation, and God's wisdom on the basis of analogy and similarity was replaced with a modern approach of studying and comparing differences and distinctions between things on the basis of empirical knowledge.
- Text vznikl v rámci projektu "Centrum pro transdisciplinární výzkum kulturních fenoménů ve středoevropských dějinách: obraz, komunikace, jednání" (GAČR, GB14-36521G).