Residenzgalerie Salzburg AUSTRIAN BAROQUE

DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg

Austrian Baroque
Italian art played a seminal role in Austrian baroque painting. Many Austrian artists drew inspiration from their training in Italy.  Due to the Ottoman Wars in the 17th century, cultural development began later in Austria. Apart from the aristocracy, the main commissions for artists came from the clergy, who expanded their monasteries into baroque residences which were total art-works in themselves. In the mid-18th century, under the influence of French pastoral scenes, Baroque evolved into Rococo.

A plague epidemic has befallen the town and has already claimed several victims. Following the example of St Charles Borromeo, attempts are made to ward off the disease by distributing the Eucharist.

The location – the town of Salzburg – is clearly defined by the artist. The Collegiate Church is recognisable, and in the distance the summit of the Untersberg.

As intercessor between this world and the next, St Charles Borromeo hovers on a cloud borne by angels.

In the celestial sphere, he is received by Christ, ruler of the world, and his host of angels in a bright, dazzling light.

This picture is an oil sketch for one of the altar paintings in the Collegiate Church in Salzburg – one of the most important of Rottmayr's later works.

"Take, eat; this is my body, ... . Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood … " – such were Jesus' words at the Last Supper. But he also presages his betrayal.

This causes turmoil amongst the apostles. Maulbertsch shows them with foreshortened faces and impassioned gestures. John alone sleeps through it all. Which of them will commit the deed?

Only one apostle looks challengingly out at the viewer; this is Judas, hiding behind his back the bag with the thirty pieces of silver.

The bag and the dog at Judas' feet betoken his betrayal. The knife before him on the table gives a premonition of the outcome.

Maulbertsch's sophisticated chiaroscuro technique and expressive colouration make him one of the principal pioneers of modern Austrian painting.

Spectacles still on his nose, his head propped on his arm, an old man has fallen into a wine-induced sleep, thus neglecting his duties as chaperone.

His charge, the young woman looking at him with an indulgent smile, has already abandoned her hand to the young gallant.

Behind her stands an old woman acting as matchmaker. Finger to her lips, she cautions them not to wake the chaperone, so that they may make their escape.

The baroque fountain in the background shows a wide-mouthed dolphin spouting water, and two amoretti. The view into the garden shows a statue of Venus.

Sea-creature and goddess symbolise and enhance the atmosphere of eroticism and seduction. This kind of suggestive courting scene was extremely popular at the time.

Meisterwerke. Residenzgalerie Salzburg. 2015
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