This small rustic ensemble was built in 1721 by an architect as unknown
then as he has remained over the centuries, a certain Schmutzel. A master
of rococo rusticity, Schmutzel excelled in particular at harmonizing
colors. Here he used an off-white, an almost lemon yellow, and a
caramel tone - shades that hardly go together, but that he managed
to translate into an aesthetic effect bordering on a perversion of
taste. The three colors are allowed to subtly interplay with each
other, until they resolve into the ceiling of pure white. Schmutzel
underscores the architectural and spatial impact of this field of
white by leading up to it in a series of wreaths, mascaroons,
cartouches, and strings of putti, all of which leave off at the
wall tops. Upon entering this little church of Ilgen, we see how
the surprising polychromatic harmony joins with the upward thrust
of the vibrating wall elements and, in their resolution within the
white of the ceiling, thus engaging our gaze in that direction.
Steingaden - Pfarrkirche (parish church) Johannes der Taüffer
The decor here is more dynamic, turbulent, and surprising than any you
might ever imagine. The colors - daringly pinker than to be found in
the boudoir of a marquess, bluer than blue - are handled so dynamically
it makes our eyes blink to look at them! The truth is that the artist,
Johann Georg Bergmüller, was familiar with painting: something that comes
as no surprise, for he had worked as a local assistant to Tiepolo at
Würzburg. Over the organ case (itself an incredible candy box in white
and gold stucco), Bergmüller covered a large surface with a fresco
depicting the creation of the Steingaden Church in the 8th century.
It shows the Duke and the architect of Steingaden, and a plan of the
church about to be remodelled. Strangely, the artist resorted to light
and dark effects, leaving the construction site in darkness and the event
itself, that is the Duke's acceptance of the construction plan, in such a
light shade it almost conveys the idea of a miracle. Contrary to
appearances, the wooden ramp between the organ case and the painting
is not in the least architectural: it is pure illusionism. The artist
was both clever and daring enough to distance the painting from the
organ case by drawing a line - in this case, the ramp - between them.
This depiction of a heavy wooden element, with dark shadows underneath it,
is a manner of exorcising the organ case and enabling the motif to reappear
a bit higher up, in the church's dedication ceremony.
The rich confessional booths here are beautiful enough to make you want to confess!
Although the native Bavarian architect/decorator/stuccoer Joseph Schmuzer (in
collaboration with his son Franz Xaver Schmuzer) was responsible for this church's
restoration and redecoration in the late 1740s (due to fire damage), the
confessionals were executed after his death, in time for the restored church's
consecration in 1762. The stunning booths are carved out of a very rare and
precious wood, above inlaid boxes of incredible beauty and inventiveness.
The stucco work in this tiny church, designed by Johann
Jakob Herkomer, is on
a par with what one could find in an imperial palace. This small room is
enlarged by a fake balustraded floor, in turn occupied by strikingly
imaginative figures representing the four parts of the world (West, Asia,
Africa, and America). These four parts of the world are set on the four
room quoins, above which cherubs have been painted as if supporting the
ceiling. The ceiling, moreover, depicted as if in prolongation of the
architecture, depicts a weathercock whose body corresponds with a gold
arrow indicating another part of the world. What could be more illustrative
of the illusionist science so in favor during the 18th century?
This church, redecorated by the stuccoer-decorator Joseph Schmuzer and his son
Franz Xaver Schmuzer, boasts a particularly fabulous element: its stucco pulpit
by Franz Xaver Schmädl (1747) is no doubt the most beautiful pulpit of Bavaria.
A large angel guards the entry to it, while its
balustrade is an outstanding
example of marble and bronze trompe l'oeil. The figures of the four church
Fathers, encircled by angels, are seated in the pulpit, and the entire arrangement
dissolves into the pulpit canopy. The feeling is that the divine spirit breathes
in this work, that the swoosh of its wings over the priest's head during mass
puts the pom-poms and guirlands into sway.
Weyarn - Stiftskirche (collegiate church) St. Peter
The two sculptures to be seen in this church are particularly splendid examples
of rocaille style. The wood carver Ignaz Günther
was one of the greatest geniuses
of European Rococo (certainly on a par with Serpotta for Sicily). He was
commissioned for some processional floats for Good Friday, two of which are
still extant: The Annunciation and the Pietà.
The Annunciation stands out for
its daring imbalance, dramatic staging, and hanging folds, as well as for the
emotion on the faces of its figures. Further qualities are its masterful beauty,
and the magnificence of its polychromy. The unusual Pietà stages an enormous Christ
and an unbelievably fragile Virgin, whose face is marked by a staggering Rococo