Parts of the St. Mary and St. Ladislaus altarpieces from Zagreb Cathedral
St. Mary and St. Ladislaus altarpieces
Zagreb, Zagreb County, Croatia
Museum of Arts and Crafts
Ivan Komersteiner (Unknown, Unknown-1694, Zagreb)
MUO 13812, 13816, 13814
Carved wood, polychrome and gilded
H: 220 cm; w: 214 cm; d:194 cm
Sculptural workshop of Ivan Komersteiner
From Zagreb Cathedral
Last quarter of the 17th century
The museum's altarpiece composition comprises parts of two altarpieces, that of St. Mary and St. Ladislaus. It has a central niche from the altarpiece of St. Mary – decorated with acanthus leaves, putti and bunches of fruit – within which the statue of Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms is standing on a half-moon entwined by a serpent. In front of the niche stand the statues of St. Ladislaus, the King, and St. Emeric, the Duke, which belonged to the altarpiece of Ladislaus.
The composition, flanked by carved consoles attached to the wall, has the same ornamental decoration as seen in the central niche of the altarpiece of St. Mary; the consoles used to support painted altarpiece wings. Above them are the statues of the four evangelists, which were originally in the niches of the predella panel of the altarpiece of St. Ladislaus.
In a contract of 1686, the sculptor from Ljubljana, Ivan Komersteiner, agreed to make the altarpiece of St. Mary for the apse of the north aisle of Zagreb Cathedral. In another contract of 1688, he agreed to make its pair, the altarpiece of St. Ladislaus, for the apse on the south aisle. Komersteiner was already a citizen of Zagreb with a workshop in Zagreb's Kaptol.
The two altarpieces were identical in design: winged altarpieces with painted panels showing scenes from the Life of Mary on the altarpiece dedicated to her, with statues distributed on two levels and in the attic. Painted panels depicting scenes from the Life of St. Ladislaus decorated the altarpiece dedicated to him, with appropriate statues. While the wings from the altarpiece of St. Mary were destroyed those from the altarpiece of St. Ladislaus are kept in Zagreb City Museum.
St. Ladislaus, the King of Hungary, was responsible for the foundation of the Zagreb Diocese.
Komersteiner was responsible for the statues and woodcarving. Ivan Eisenhort and Bernardo Bobić collaborated on the painting and gilding of the altarpieces, while Matijaž Erlman began the work on the architecture for the altarpiece of St. Mary.
The arrival of the sculptor, Komersteiner, to Zagreb marked the final entrance of the Baroque in the sculpture of continental Croatia. He brought with him as a novelty the ornamental decorative motif of Baroque acanthus, so-called Italian leaves, and his statues anticipate a new style expressed in the mobility of the slender figures of saints in characteristic counterpoise, freeing them from dependence on altarpiece niches.
Komersteine's expression in his work has no direct analogies either in Croatia or in neighbouring territories, but the indirect influence of Italian art in his work is undeniable.
During renovations in 1882, both altarpieces were removed from Zagreb Cathedral.
A “composite” altarpiece composition comprising parts from the Altarpieces of St. Mary and St. Ladislaus originally designed for the apses of the north and south aisles of Zagreb Cathedral.
During renovation of the cathedral in 1882, both altarpieces were removed and partially destroyed in the process. They were made by Ivan Komersteiner, a sculptor who worked first in Ljubljana and then in Zagreb. His arrival in Zagreb marked the final entrance of the Baroque to continental Croatia.
Contracts from 1686 and 1688 in Acta capituli antiqua fasc. 101
In 1921, the Commission for Education and Religion gave the order to transfer parts of the altarpieces to the Museum of Arts and Crafts to protect the cultural heritage.
Tkalčić, I., Prvostolna crkva zagrebačka (Zagreb Cathedral), Zagreb, 1885.
Baričević, D., Kiparstvo manirizma i baroka. Sveti trag, devetsto godina umjetnosti Zagrebačke nadbiskupije 1094–1994. Katalog izložbe (Mannerist and Baroque Sculpture. The Holy Trail, 900 Years of Art in the Zagreb Archdiocese 1094–1994), exhibition catalogue, Zagreb, 1994.
Nela Tarbuk "Parts of the St. Mary and St. Ladislaus altarpieces from Zagreb Cathedral" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;hr;Mus11;15;en
Prepared by: Nela Tarbuk Nela Tarbuk
AFFILIATION: Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia
TITLE: Museum Counsellor, Head of the Sacral Sculpture, Ivory and Musical
Nela Tarbuk was awarded her BA in Art History and Comparative Literature from Zagreb University (Faculty of Philosophy). As head of the Museum if Arts and Craft’s Sculpture, Ivory and Musical Instruments collections, she has curated several exhibitions and written many articles. Her special research interests focus on sacral furniture. Exhibition catalogues include Culture of the Paulines in Croatia (1989), Jesuit Heritage in Croatia (1992), Peace and Virtue (2000), Hidden Treasures (2005) and Musical Instruments from the Holdings of the Museum of Arts and Crafts (2007).
Translation by: Nikolina Jovanović
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: HR 15