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Begin - Online Appraisal Information - Art Movements and Biographies - Fine Art - Europe - Austria - Sculpture
Before c 1400: Romanesque and Gothic
A considerable quantity of ornamental interlace survives from the 8th century (examples in Millstatt, Stiftsmus.), for the most part abstract, although a human figure survives (Molzbichl, St Tiburtius). Sculpture became gradually more independent of architecture. Among the earliest ecclesiastical wood figural sculptures in Austria was probably a small relief of the Crucifixion (360×575 mm; Linz, Oberösterreich. Landesmuseum.), produced in the region around Kremsmünster Abbey. Its expressive group of plain figures in wood corresponds in form to the relief of the doors of St Maria im Kapitol, Cologne, dating it to around the mid-11th century; other features refer to the 12th century. The sculpture produced in the period that followed was simple and symbolic and is exemplified by the former Benedictine monastery of Millstatt in Carinthia.
1400–1600: Late Gothic and Renaissance
In the Late Gothic period, which continued into the early 16th century, one of the most important sculptural forms was the retable. Several notable artists, including Hans Von Judenburg, Jakob Kaschauer, Michael Pacher, Hans Klocker and the Kriechbaum family, contributed to the development of the form, helping to introduce new stylistic elements that gradually ushered in the Renaissance. The Master of the Znaim Altar (c. 1435–45; Vienna, Belvedere, Österreich. Gal.), who may have worked in Kaschauer’s studio in Vienna, introduced a new and radical realism influenced by Netherlandish art and a style of relief that paralleled the Italian early Renaissance. In the Tyrol, Hans Multscher’s altarpiece (1456–8/9; dismantled 1779; fragments in Basle, priv. col.; Innsbruck, Tirol. Landesmuseum.; Munich, Bayer. Nmus.; Vipiteno, Mus. Muellscher, and Parrocchio) for the church of Unsere Liebe Frau, Sterzing (now Vipiteno, Italy) was particularly important in the development of the retable; for example, the figures leaning out of windows in the background of the shrine are repeated in Klocker’s altars (Munich, Bayer. Nmus.; and Bolzano, Franciscan church).
1600–1750: Baroque
There is an important distinction in Austrian Baroque sculpture between work produced in the Alpine region (especially Upper Austria and Salzburg) and court art, centered on Vienna. In the early 17th century, sculpture in the Alpine region was influenced by artists who migrated from southern Germany. Hans Waldburger (1571/3–1630), for example, worked in Salzburg, where he made the former high altar of Nonnberg Convent Church (1629), now in the parish church in Scheffau, Salzburg. He also executed the high altar (1626) of the former monastery church (now the parish church) of Mondsee in Upper Austria. In the second half of the 17th century Baroque sculpture flourished in Upper Austria; many carved altars richly decked with figures survive. Typically black and gold with turned columns, a heavy, molded, curving entablature, gnarled, gilded work and acanthus ornamentation, in their composition they are the Baroque version of the Gothic shrine altar. This characteristically Alpine blend of local, traditional wood-carving and south German and north Italian influences is visible in the altars of such artists as Thomas Schwanthaler.
1750–1900: Neo-classicism to Historicism
In the second half of the 18th century there was a slow transition to Neo-classicism, although the influence of broader international developments was hampered by the strong local tradition established by George Raphael Donner. Students at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna were still being taught by Donner’s former pupils and collaborators at the beginning of the 1770s. This legacy lingered in the work of Johann Martin Fischer even at the beginning of the 19th century. A belated blossoming of Rococo in the 1750s and 1760s, to which sculptors responded with varying intensity, also impeded the development of Neo-classicism. Although several Austrian artists sculpted significant works, for example Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s classically inspired portraits from the start of the 1770s, the most influential early Neo-classical sculptor was the German Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Beyer, who directed the sculptural decoration (1773–80) of the park at Schloss Schönbrunn, Vienna.
After 1900: Modern developments
In the early 20th century, sculpture in Austria remained essentially traditional, with stylistic developments from other countries having only a limited influence and figurative works continuing to dominate. The naturalistic, academic style of the monuments associated with the development of the Ringstrasse in Vienna in the late 19th century continued into the 1930s, with many of the leading 19th-century sculptors of monuments and portraits, such as Kaspar Clemens Zumbusch and Edmund Hellmer, continuing to work on into the 20th. The Secession and Viennese Jugendstil did, however, provide some new stylistic influences that could be adapted to the predominantly monumental approach. The statue of Marcus Aurelius (Vienna, Sezession) by Arthur Strasser (1834–1927) and the Mozart Fountain in Vienna by Carl Wollek (1862–1936) achieved a definite classicism characterized by a simplicity that avoided the merely decorative.
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