Made in Austria between the late 17th and early 18th century, this larch wood sculpture representing St. Christopher is attributed to the entourage of the artist Giovanni Giuliani.
A lively expression emerges from this sculpture. This aspect is characteristic of the Italian Baroque which, by the end of the 17th century, had spread to the whole of European art. The virtuosity of the woodwork gives the artist the opportunity to create a real effect of movement both through the contrapposto of the saint and the precision given to the folds of his habit. The result of this plastic liveliness is a sinuous form that perfectly reflects the aesthetic trend of European art at that time.
The figure of the saint shown is that of Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers. This martyr saint is said to have died under Emperor Decius (248-251) in Lycia. The most widespread iconography of Saint Christopher is the one presented in this sculpture, that is to say a man carrying a child on his shoulders, resting on a stick with one foot in the water, in connection with the episode in which he makes Christ cross a river. However, this representation was not known to Byzantine iconography, which represented him only as a martyr, but did not pay attention to the pun on his name. Indeed, his name comes from the Greek words Khristos (Christ) and phorein (to carry), so Christopher can be understood as the "Christ Carrier". It was not until the 12th century that the first depictions of the saint carrying Christ appeared, mainly in South Tyrol. However, the representation of the saint does not yet correspond to his popular iconography, as he is shown static, on dry land, holding an adult Christ in his arms, without any reference to crossing the river. This final version does not appear in hagiographical literature until the second half of the 13th century, notably under the impulse of the version of the Golden Legend by Jacques de Voragine (1261-66). This gave rise to a new iconography of St Christopher, no longer presented as a young martyr holding an adult Christ, but as a great man crossing the river with the child Christ on his shoulders. It is therefore this iconography, faithful to the texts, that was preserved and privileged, as our sculpture proves.
It is difficult not to notice the plurality of artistic influences that confront each other within this sculpture, which could be summed up as follows: the meeting of Italian Baroque plastic and Austrian aesthetics. This fusion is due to Giovanni Giuliani (1664 - 1744). Born in Venice, he settled definitively in Austria in 1690 where he contributed to the contribution of Italian Baroque. His training and his place of production combined, this artist created a style borrowed from movement and expression which was personal to him and which marked his contemporary colleagues. Our sculpture bears witness to this style and its appropriation by Giovanni Giuliani’s entourage.
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Price : on request
Price : on request