The Age of Enlightenment
Towards a rational art: reshaping rhetoric and splendour
Despite enlightened efforts to reform the building of parish churches by order of a more noble simplicity, the powerful tradition of the ornamental Rococo style still won through.
In Bavaria in 1770, despite the prince elector Maximilian III Joseph’s efforts to reform the building of parish churches by order of a more noble simplicity, the powerful tradition of the ornamental Rococo style, seen in the parish church of Wessobrunn, still won through. Only in the Benedictine abbey church of Ettal a completely different situation occurs: a hard but impressive contrast is found between the older style seen in the huge main rotunda, and in contrast, the classicising Louis XVI decoration inside the smaller rotunda of the choir. Comparable simultaneity of pure and mixed styles is seen in neighbouring Tyrol or in Hungary.
Parish Church of St. John Baptist

1757–1759
Wessobrunn, Upper Bavaria, Germany
Architect: Joseph Schmuzer (1683–1752); stuccowork and altars: Thassilo Zöpf (1723–1807); frescoes and altarpiece: Johann Baptist Baader (1717–1780); sculptures: Franz Xaver Schmädl (1705–1777)
The parish church of the former Benedictine abbey Wessobrunn was erected at the beginning of the enlightened era in Bavaria. Its Baroque architecture sets the scene for the interior decoration in the fashionable Rococo-style, but the clear narrative iconography seen in the ceiling fresco follows enlightened tendencies.