Throughout the seventeenth and into the eighteenth centuries Augsburg was a major European centre for gold and silversmith work. The extent of the trade is witnessed by the city's records of 1615 in which 185 goldsmiths were registered as opposed to only 137 bakers. Catholics and Protestants worked alongside each other in the Augsburg goldsmith's guild. Johannes Zeckel was a Catholic and concentrated on ecclesiastical commissions, of which his best known is the Lepanto Monstrance of 1708. His mark is seen on the present corpus to the back of the perizonium.
Zeckel became a goldsmith in the year 1691, the same year he married. He was the third husband of Anna Maria Spemmenberger, whose previous husbands had both been silversmiths. The correlation between the date of the wedding and Zeckel's professional status is no coincidence. He inherited the workshop and commissions of his predecessors – the few recorded commissions of Anna Maria's first and second husbands were for religious works.
Although there is no evidence that Zeckel trained as a sculptor, he produced a number of silver sculptures. It has been suggested that he worked with the sculptor Ehrgott Bernhard Bendl (c. 1660 – 1738) who may have created the models on which Zeckel's silver sculptures were based. An example of Zeckel's silver sculpture is his Saint Aquilinus in the Marienkapelle at Wurzburg. Like the present Corpus, Saint Aquilinus's head is turned sharply to his proper right and his face conveys great anguish. There is a careful delineation of the facial features seen in both models, with strong lines around the eyelids and the fingernails.
J. Rowlands, 'Augsburg Baroque', The Burlington Magazine, vol. 110, no. 786, September 1968, pp. 537-42; H. Seling, Die Kunst der Augsburger Goldschmiede 1529-1868, Munich, 1980, pp. 271-2
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