Statues - Hither & Thither

Austria
Wien
Wien (Land)

Graben (1.)

Pestsäule

Plague Column

Various sculptors
1693

Wien /  Pestsäule   Wien /  Pestsäule

Description

Baroque Trinity Column, in the form of a 18 meter high pyramid of clouds on the triangular pedestal, dedicated to the Trinity and the Nine Choirs of Angels (Neun Chöre der Engel, see Wikipedia), commemorating the bubonic plague epidemic of 1679. The cloud pyramid is surmounted by a sculpture of the Trinity.

The monument can be devided in various elements:

A. The Triumphant Trinity

Gilded copper sculpture group, depicting God the father as an old man, making a blessing gesture with his right hand and resting his left hand on an orb; the Son with the cross and the Holy Ghost as a dove in a radiating sun. The Father and Son sit on a cloud surrounded by cherubs and angels.

B. The Pyramid of Clouds with the Nine Choirs of Angels

Steep pyramid, almost an obelisk with clouds, with nine large angels, some seated, some standing on the clouds, with the following attributes: trumpet, book, lute, lance, sword and shield, baton, torch, ducal crown (Herzogshut), imperial crown and sceptre.

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  1. Angel with imperial crown and sceptre (above the statue of emperor Leopold).
  2. Angel with crown
  3. Angel with trumpet
  4. Angel with lance

C. Pedestal

The base includes some statues and twelve marble reliefs and inscriptions according to the plans of Franciscus Menegatti. Each 'wing' of the tripartite pedestal is dedicated to one of the three divine persons, God the Father, Christ the Redeemer and the Holy Ghost. Each of these wings shows on th front a coat of arms and an angel on a socle unfolding a banderole; and on both sides two reliefs. The lower reliefs show historiae, the smaller upper reliefs on the second story of the pedestal are symbolic.
A Latin prayer in gilded letters on darkened copper sheets is divided into three parts, placed in the center parts between the three wings. The prayer pleads for mercy, asking favors for Leopold I, his family, his house, his peoples, and his empire; it gives thanks for deliverance from the plague (a chronogram 1679); and last but not least, it praises the Trinity as all knowing and all powerful. It has been said that the emperor himself composed the text.

  1. God the Father (west wing)

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    1. scroll DEO / PATRI / creatori (To God the Father the Creator).
    2. The imperial crown, the double eagle with the crests of Spain, Burgundy, Austria, Tyrol along with Styria, Carinthia and Carneolia (Krain).
    3. Terrestrial globe
    4. Celestial globe
    5. The Creation of Eve
    6. Plague in Vienna

    (click on the photo for an enlargement in a separate window.)
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    Statue: Leopold I in Prayer
    Sculpture group: Faith Triumphing over Pestilence
    First part of prayer.

  2. Christ (east wing)

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    1. scroll DEO / FILIO / redemptori (To God the Son the Redeemer).
    2. Hungarian crown and the coat of arms of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia
    3. Agnus Dei.
    4. The Eucharistic Chalice with Host
    5. Passover
    6. Last Supper

    (click on the photo for an enlargement.)
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    Coat of arms of Österreich ob der Enns (Upper Austria).
    Second part of prayer.

  3. Holy Ghost (north wing)

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    1. scroll DEO / SPIRITUI / SANCTIFICA / tori (To God the Ghost the Holy Maker).
    2. Gilded coat of arms referring to the regions of Bohemia, Silesia (Schlesien), Moravia, and Lausitz.
    3. Flaming Heart
    4. God's Hand
    5. Pentecost
    6. The Flood
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    Coat of arms of Österreich unter der Enns (Lower Austria).
    Third part of prayer.

I II III
Tibi Regi Soeculorum Immortali:
Uni In Essentia Et Trino In Personis,
DEO
Infinito, Bono, &Aelig;terno Et Immenso,
Cuius Dextera Omnia Sunt Possibilia,
Cuius Sapientiæ Nihil Est Absconditum,
Cuius Providentia In Sua Dispositione
Non Fallitur
Cuius Maiestate Impletur Universum,
Cuius Misericordia Supra Omnia Opera!
Svscipe
Clementissime Deus,
Servi Tui
Demisse Te Adorantis
Vota:
Et Me,
Coniugem, Liberos,
Domumqve Meam:
Populos Et Exercitus
Meos:
Regna Ac Provincias:
Continua
Misericordiæ Tuæ
Protectione Guberna
Custodi, Defende!
Ita VoVI:
Anno DoMINI
saLVatorIs nostrI
IesU ChrIstI
Tibi, Inquam,
Sanctissimæ Ac Individuæ
Trinitati
Ego Leopoldus
Humilis Servus Tuus
Gratias Ago
Quas Possum Maximas
Pro Aversa
Anno MDCLXXIX
Per Summam Benignitatem
Tuam
Ab Hac Vrbe
Et Avstriæ Provincia
Diræ Pestis Lue:
Atque In Perpetuam
Debitæ Gratitudinis
Tesseram
Præsens Monumentum
Demississime Consecro
You, the immortal King of the ages,
one in essence and three in person,
the God
infinite, good, eternal and immeasurable,
whose right hand is for everything possible,
for his wisdom nothing is hidden,
whose providence in their arrangements,
is not mistaken
by its grandeur, the universe is fulfilled,
whose mercy is over all actions.
Suppose
kindest God,
the vows of your servant
who adores you humbly:
And me,
my wife, my children,
my house,
my peoples and armies,
kingdoms and provinces:
.., guard, defend
the constant protection
of your mercy!
So I have vowed
in the year [1679]
of the Lord, our Savior,
Jesus Christ. Last lines:
Chronogram 1679
You,
the holy and indivisible
Trinity:
I Leopold,
your humble servant,
I thank you
so much I can,
that in 1679,
by your high
quality
from this city
and province of Austia
the disastrous plague
was averted:
and as permanent
sign of gratitude
due to you
I dedicate this
memorial humbly.

Annotation

In 1679, Vienna suffered one of the last bubonic plague epidemics. Fleeing the city, Emperor Leopold I pledged to erect a monument to appease God's wrath. In the same year, a provisional wooden column made by Johann Frühwirth was inaugurated, showing the Holy Trinity as Mercy Seat (Gnadenstuhl) on a corinthian column adorned with nine standing angels (the Nine Choirs of Angels). Because of the Turkish siege, the project to make the final marble monument was delayed. In 1683, Matthias Rauchmiller was commissioned to do the marble works, but he died in 1686 and only left a few angel figures.

After Rauchmiller's death Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was in charge of the plans. The original design was considered too old-fashing and Fischer made a new design, while at the same time also theatre engineer Ludovico Ottavio Burnacini became involved in the project and made designs. The most important differences with the original plan was the 'Triumphant Trinity' and the pyramid of clouds (invented by Burnacini).

The monumental architectural pedestal was adorned with twelve marble reliefs and affixed inscriptions after the plan of Franciscus Menegatti, with each section of the tripartite memorial was dedicated to one of the three divine persons.

The column was completed in 1694, but was already inaugurated on 29 October 1693.

In spite of the long construction period, the frequent amendments of the design and the large number of sculptors involved, the monument appears quite homogeneous. During the design period, it changed from a conservative memorial column to a high baroque scene, narrating a story in a theatrical form. The monument thus indicates the transition to the era of High Baroque in Vienna. It highly influenced the style and was imitated in the whole Austrian region.

Sculptors:

  1. Paul Strudel: He also made the wooden model, according to which Johann Baptist Killan from Augsburg made the gilded copper Holy Trinity group at the top of the pyramid.
  2. Matthias Rauchmiller: angels with trumpet, lute, and book.
  3. Johann Frühwirt: angels with torch and ducal crown.
  4. Adam Kracker: angels with torch and ducal crown.
  5. Matthias Gunst: angels with shield & sword.
  6. Ignaz Bendl, the six lower reliefs, after designs by Fischer von Erlach.

Sculptors

Sources & Information

Tags

  • Bendl, Ignaz
  • Chronogram
  • Coat of arms
  • Frühwirth, Johann
  • Gunst, Matthias
  • Kracker, Adam
  • Leopold I (emperor)
  • Plague Column
  • Rauchmüller, Matthias
  • Strudel, Paul
  • Trinity Column
  • Location N 48°12'31" E 16°22'11"

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    Item Code: atwi041; Photograph: 9 September 2012
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