Photograph: Pavel Čech
© Moravská galerie v Brně

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Name of Monument:
Dominican Church of St. Michael, Brno
Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
1658–1679; 1728; 1745; 1760
Denomination / Type of monument:
Religious – Church
Jan Křtitel Erna (1625? Brno – 1698 Brno), Anton Riga (cca 1660 Kaliningrad – 1728 Brno), Josef Winterhalder Sr. (1702 Vöhrenbach – 1769 Vienna), Damascenus Schwarz, Dominik Kirchner, Johan Franz Greipel (1720–1798), Josef Tadeáš Rotter (1701 Opava – 1763 Brno), Johann Lukas Kracker (1717 Vienna –1779 Eger), Josef Stern (1716 Graz – 1775 Brno), František Vavřinec Korompay (1723 Rohatec u Strážnice – 1779 Brno), Josef Winterhalder Jr. (1743 Vöhrenbach – 1807 Znojmo), Karl Aigen, Jan Adam Nesmann (1710 Mainz – 1773 Brno), Ondřej Schweigl (1735–1812, Brno), Ondřej Zahner (1709 Ettershausen – 1752 Olomouc)
Lev of Kounice, Dominican order
The church was frequented by Moravian estate holders who held their sessions in the adjacent monastery. The complete refurbishment of the original medieval church was financed by the legacy of the provincial judge, Lev of Kounice, who had established the Kounic family tomb there. City development incorporated the new church into what was the fish market, so its disposition was reversed and the building was entered from the east. Setting the church into a mild slope proved a problem shortly after its completion by J. K. Erna. Old views of the square, which also featured the margrave’s house and a mint, show the monumental effect of the church amidst the surrounding buildings.
The two-spire frontage which is segmented with pilasters and lesenes culminates in a triangular gable on top of which is the patron saint of the church. In 1728, in order to break up the flat façade, statues by A. Riga were set in niches. The mock-Gothic Chapel of the Holy Grave was added in 1701. The single-nave church adjoining the monastery buildings is flanked by side chapels furnished by blocks of richly carved pews decorated with acanthus leafs.
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How Monument was dated:
The laying of the church foundation stone and its consecration are recorded in the archives. The dating of artworks by individual artists may be derived from their biographies and by chronologies of their work.


Special features

St. Vincent Ferrer


Jan Adam Nesmann (1710 Mainz – 1773 Brno)

Reinforcement work included construction of a terrace, lined with statues by J. Winterhalder Sr. and O. Zahner. The sculptor, J. A. Nessmann, came to Brno from Mainz and worked initially in the workshop of J. J. Schauberger. His statues in wood and stone are typified by soft modelling and compact outlines, giving them an air of urgency. The terrace once housed shops.

Dominican Church of St. Michael, Brno


Jan Křtitel Erna (1625? Brno – 1698 Brno)

A cylindrical vault with intersecting segments is decorated austerely with stucco rods with “mirror” frames. The vault pedestal is marked by a ledge frieze supported by pilasters; this approach was typical of the second half of the 17th century.

c. 1745

Josef Winterhalder Sr. (1702 Vöhrenbach – 1769 Vienna)

The pulpit architecture is completely obscured by sculpted decoration. Roofing is absent, replaced by a group of dynamically rendered figures headed by Archangel Gabriel, fighter against the Antichrist and with Divine Providence in the background. The platform is lined with statues of the saints Vincent Ferrer and Thomas Aquinas, while a relief depicts the founder of the Dominican order. Reliefs on the ambo represent New Testament scenes from Christ Tempted by the Devil. The expressively executed coloured pedestal is made up of a host of fallen angels in desperate postures. Winterhalder was inspired by a similar base by B. Permoser in Dresden, with which he had became acquainted in the 1730s. The illusionary architecture of the high altar was executed by the Dominican brothers.
St. John of Nepomuk Worshipping the Virgin Mary

Dominican Church of St. Michael, Brno

c. 1760

Josef Stern (1716 Graz – 1775 Brno)

The church altars were decorated by the leading Brno artists, J. V. Korompay, J. T. Rotter, I. Raab, O. Schweigl and J. Stern. The diagonal composition is characteristic of 17th-century Roman Adoration paintings (P. Cortona, G. B. Gaulli). The sketch for the side altarpiece is held in the Moravian Gallery in Brno.
St. Thomas Aquinas

Dominican Church of St. Michael, Brno


Johann Lucas Kracker (1717 Vienna – 1779 Jager)

A shallow, theatrical scene depicts the Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) at prayer, in the course of which Christ appeared before him. J. L. Kracker was active in the Brno workshop of J. T. Rotter, having studied in Vienna. He made several drawings of the interior decoration of the church which are now preserved in Hungarian art collections. In 1749 he moved to Znojmo and through the Premonstratensians in Louka Monastery entered service with the Bishop of Jager.
  Selected bibliography:

Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska I, A-J, Prague, 1994, pp. 169–175.
Ivo Krsek –­­ Zdeněk Kudělka (ed) –­­ Miloš Stehlík –­­ Josef Válka, Umění baroka na Moravě a ve Slezsku, Prague, 1996, pp. 93, 209, 380.
Anna Jávor, Johann Lucas Kracker. Ein Maler des Spätbarock in Mitteleuropa, Budapest, 2005, pp. 45–47, 49, 241, cat. 20.
Martin Pavlíček, Josef Winterhalder st. (1702–1796), Brno, 2005, pp. 73–84.
Citation of this web page:
Zora Wörgötter "Dominican Church of St. Michael, Brno" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;21;en
Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 21