Artibus et Historiae no. 84 (XLII)

2021, ISSN 0391-9064

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MAREK WALCZAK - A Group of Statuettes in Alabaster from the Dominican Church in Cracow: A Contribution to the Research on Imported Artworks in Central Europe in the Late Middle Ages (pp. 9–49)

The present paper deals with a group of alabaster statuettes of the Virgin and Child, Christ and the Apostles, dating from the third quarter of the fifteenth century, held in the Dominican church in Cracow. At the end of the sixteenth century the Enthroned Virgin and Child was donated to Przemyśl: first to the convent of the Dominican nuns, then to the Dominican friary, and in the eighteenth century it was removed to Przemyśl Cathedral. The statue having been an object of fervent veneration for many centuries, its origins in Cracow were forgotten. Recently, a group of six sculptures representing Christ and the Apostles, hitherto unknown in the scholarship, has been identified in the church of St Giles in Cracow, for centuries associated with the local Dominican friary and cared for by Friars Preacher. These figures, along with the Enthroned Virgin and Child in Przemyśl most likely come from the same altarpiece. All of them share similar stylistic characteristics and very probably were executed in the same Netherlandish workshop in the third quarter of the fifteenth century. Stylistic analysis of the statuettes indicates their close affinities with the tradition of Burgundian sculpture from the circle of Claus Sluter and Claus de Werve, while their poses and patterns of their drapery folds find almost identical counterparts in figures painted en grisaille by Rogier van der Weyden in some of his panels. Regrettably, it is impossible to identify either the patron or the circumstances of the commission which resulted in bringing to Cracow such an exquisite set of sculptures. Nevertheless, the figurines are an invaluable evidence of artistic imports from Western to Central Europe and provide an important link in the process of penetration of the Netherlandish ars nova towards the East.

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