Saturday, February 18, 2012

Czech Republic : Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc (2000)

This memorial column, erected in the early years of the 18th century, is the most outstanding example of a type of monument specific to central Europe. In the characteristic regional style known as Olomouc Baroque and rising to a height of 35 m, it is decorated with many fine religious sculptures, the work of the distinguished Moravian artist Ondrej Zahner.

Following the Swedish occupation of this largely medieval city at the end of the Thirty Years' War (1648-50), four fifths of Olomouc lay in ruins and more than 90% of its inhabitants had fled. Although it lost its status as the capital of Moravia, it remained an episcopal see and this fact, coupled with the indomitable self-confidence of its citizens, ensured its regeneration.
In the post-war reconstruction the street pattern of the medieval town was respected. However, it took on a new appearance: over the following century many impressive public and private buildings were constructed in a local variant of the prevailing style, which became known as "Olomouc Baroque." The most characteristic expression of this style was a group of monuments (columns and fountains), of which the Holy Trinity Column is the crowning glory.
"... I shall raise a column so high and splendid it shall not have an equal in any other town": these were the words used by Václav Render, Olomouc master stonemason, to describe his project for building a religious column, which was submitted to the City Council on 29 October 1715. The project was approved on 13 January 1716 and work started in the spring of 1717, Render financing and carrying out most of it himself. In 1733, the year of Render's death, the column had reached the height of a single-storey building, with a chapel inside and a central core clad in stone, together with intricate stone-masonry detailing. In this first stage, in the 1720s, the first part of the sculptural decoration was carried out by the Olomouc sculptor Filip Sattler.
In his will Render bequeathed almost all his considerable fortune to the city for the completion of the work. The remaining sculptural work was carried out in 1745-52 by the distinguished Moravian sculptor Ondrej Zahner (1709-52). In the early 1750s, the topmost group and the group representing the Assumption of the Virgin Mary were cast in copper and gilded by the Olomouc goldsmith Šimon Forstner (1714-73). The Column was ceremonially consecrated on 9 September 1754, in the presence of the Empress Maria Theresa.

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