© Moravská galerie v Brně

Add to My Collection

Related content
Timeline for this item

On display in the Exhibition(s)
Reformation and Counter-Reformation | Religious orders and their function in transmitting the language of the Counter-Reformation
Devotion and Pilgrimage | Devotional objects

Name of Monument:
Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Brno
Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
1645–1651; 1653; 1739; 1753
Denomination / Type of monument:
Religious – Monastery
Joachim von Sandrart (1606 Frankfurt – 1686 Nuremberg), Moric Grimm (1669 Achdorf – 1757 Brno), František Antonín Grimm, Josef Tadeáš Rotter (1701 Opava – 1763 Brno), Johann Lucas Kracker (1717 Vienna – 1779 Jager), Josef Stern (1716 Graz – 1775 Brno), Ondřej Schweigl (1735–1812 Brno), Jan Adam Nesmann (1710 Mainz – 1773 Brno)
Capuchin Monastery, Kryštof Pavel Liechtenstein-Castelkorn, Václav Eusebius of Lobkowitz (1609–1677), Baron Trenck
The Capuchins came to Brno in 1604 by invitation of Cardinal Dietrichstein, who also introduced the order to Mikulov as part of his Counter-Reformation enterprises. The original seat of the order, by the Menínská brána Gate, was destroyed in the Swedish siege of Brno in 1645. Count Liechtenstein-Castelkorn, Provincial Governor of Moravia, financed the construction of a new Capuchin Monastery in the coal market. The 18th-century reconstruction of the monastery was designed by father and son Grimm, prominent Moravian builders. Their house adjoined the monastery and they are buried in the crypt.
The church, situated below the Episcopal Courtyard, is a single-nave building with a straight chancel. By the east wall are the original Chapels of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Fidelius, which was added later by M. Grimm. A crypt containing mummified bodies, most of them monks, as well as that of Baron Trenck, lies under the church and is something of a tourist attraction.
View Short Description
How Monument was dated:
The paintings by J. Sandrart and J. L. Kracker are signed and dated.


Special features

Invention of the Holy Cross

Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross


Joachim von Sandrart (1606 Frankfurt – 1686 Nuremberg)

The Counter-Reformation activities of the Capuchin order are reflected in this sizeable picture for the high altar. It depicts a key scene in the legend of the Invention of the Holy Cross on which Christ was crucified, showing Empress Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, as she witnesses the Cross's authenticity; that the touch of the cross brings a dead youth back to life and cures a terminally-ill woman. Behind the empress stands Bishop Makarios. The use of light within the picture makes much of the resurrection, while the rhetorical gestures, artistic rendering of richly varied surfaces and a monumental compositional structure, make for an impressive painting. The canvas, considered the first Baroque painting in Moravia, originated at the same time as the Crucifixion Sandrart painted for the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna, which was said to have been commissioned by Count Václav Eusebius of Lobkowitz, one of the most powerful men in the Viennese imperial court.
St. Fidelius of Sigmaringen

Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Brno


Johann Lucas Kracker (1717 Vienna – 1779 Jager)

This picture of St. Fidelius of Sigmaringen was first painted by Kracker for the Capuchin Monastery in Znojmo. Sandrart lived in the monastery before being summoned to work for the Bishop of Jager. The Brno piece was probably an unfinished painting by J. T. Rotter in whose workshop Kracker worked after graduating from the Vienna Academy.
The Stigmatisation of St. Francis

Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Brno

c. 1760

Josef Tadeáš Rotter (1701 Opava – 1763 Brno)

Rotter, who specialised in altarpieces, easel paintings, frescos and decorative wall paintings, was a major figure within the Brno guild of painters. His oeuvre is known from the 1740s, when he worked for the Augustinians and Premonstratensians in Hradisko near Olomouc, although the frescos are not preserved. The side-altar picture comes from Rotter’s late phase, when he embraced closed shapes and more simple colour schemes.
St. Felix of Cantalice

Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Brno


Jan Adam Nesmann (1710 Mainz – 1773 Brno)

The entrance of the church, in sloping terrain, was adjusted by a terrace with statues of Capuchin saints. The sculptor, who trained in the Rhine Basin region, worked in the Brno workshop of J. J. Schauberger. His compact figures are noteworthy for their expressive faces.

Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Brno


Josef Stern (1716 Graz – 1775 Brno), Ondřej Schweigl (1735–1812 Brno)

The library equipment was enabled by a generous donation from Baron Trenck who is mummified in the monastery crypt. The ceiling painting represents John Bonaventura showing a crucifix to Thomas Aquinas in response to a query as to the origin of the sources of his writings. One remarkable item is a human skeleton in a display case amidst the other library cases. The skeleton was used for anatomy studies and also symbolised, within the library iconography, a memento mori.
  Selected bibliography:
Christian Klemm, Joachim von Sandrart. Kunstwerke u. Lebenslauf, Berlin, 1986, pp. 217–219, cat. 103.
Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska I, A-J, Prague, 1994, p. 204.
Ivo Krsek –­­ Zdenek Kudělka (ed) –­­ Miloš Stehlík –­­ Josef Válka, Umění baroka na Moravě a ve Slezsku, Prague, 1996, p. 452.
Anna Jávor, Johann Lucas Kracker. Ein Maler des Spätbarock in Mitteleuropa, Budapest, 2005, pp. 278–279, cat. 201.
Michaela Šeferisová Loudová, Barockbibliotheken in Mähren, in Martin Mádl – Michaela Šeferisová Loudová – Zora Wörgötter (eds), Baroque ceiling painting in Central Europe / Barocke Deckenmalerei in Mitteleuropa, Prague, 2007, pp. 57–65.
Citation of this web page:
Zora Wörgötter "Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Brno" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;36;en
Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 36