JOHANN KASPAR HIERNLE
gilt, silvered and polychromed limewood
height: 131.5cm., 51¾in.; 139cm., 54¾in. including halo
Executed in Mainz, Germany, circa 1750.
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Overall the condition of the wood is good with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There is minor stable splitting to the wood consistent with the material. There is a split to the centre of the base and the right corner has raised. Minor stable splits to the reverse and a few further in the drapery such as at the legs. There is a patch at the proper left shoulder. The sculpture is carved in sections: the proper right arm is carved separately. The sculpture has been cleaned. Some sections of original gilding have been lost and these have been regilded, such as in the folds of the drapery on the proper left side. General wear to the gilding and slivering with some relatively minor refreshment. Some minor losses to the polychrome/ gilding / slivering with different paint layers to the base. One of the glass beads at the collar is lost. Two metal mounts to the reverse and a drilled hole.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
By repute the Church of St. Stephan, Mainz
Rear courtyard, Himmelgasse 11, until 1905
Acquired for a church in Mainz-Amöneburg
Mr. Leonhard, Höchst
Art market, Frankfurt
Georg Hartmann, Frankfurt
On loan to the Liebieghaus, Frankfurt, 1978-1983
On loan to the Landesmuseum Mainz, 1983-2014 (inv. no. DL 2000/11)
Thence by descent, private collection, Germany
Sotheby's, London, 3 December 2014, lot 102
Ernst Neeb, Verzeichnis der Kunstdenkmäler der Stadt Mainz, I. Privatbesitz, Mainz, 1905, p. 52
Peter Metz, Mainzer Rokokoplastik, Giessen, 1927, p. 24
Ludwig Döry, 'Sebastian and Johann Kaspar Hiernle, Mainzer Bildhauer', Mainzer Zeitschrift. Mittelrheinisches Jahrbuch für Archäologie, Kunst und Geschichte 79/80, 1984/1985, pp. 219-220 and 232, no. A 24, fig. 14
Nicole Beyer, Skulpturen des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts im Landesmuseum Mainz, Mainz, 2001, pp. 112-113, no. 64
This impressive German Rococo statue of the Virgin was attributed to Johann Kaspar Hiernle by Ludwig Baron Döry in his seminal 1984 essay on the sculptor and his brother Sebastian (d. 1755) (Döry, op. cit., pp. 219-220, 232). It was on long-term loan to the Landesmuseum, Mainz, before being sold at Sotheby’s in 2014.
Johann Kaspar Hiernle was the son of the celebrated late Baroque sculptor Franz Matthias Hiernle (1677-1732), a native of Bavaria who moved to Mainz and became court sculptor to Elector Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1655-1729). His success led to the creation of a dynasty for the family, with his sons Johann Kaspar and Sebastian receiving notable commissions in their own right.
The present figure is a particularly beautiful example of Johann Kaspar's work, with Döry commenting that, in its delicacy, grace and unity, it counts among the sculptor’s masterpieces (Döry, op. cit., p. 219). The Virgin is thought to have been made for the church of St Stephan, Mainz, which provided Johann Kaspar with numerous important commissions, including a statue of St. Bonifatius (for a complete list see Döry, op. cit., p. 232). In its facial physiognomy, with oval shaped head and long neck, it finds a close parallel in the sculptor's Immaculata surmounting the Quintin-Kirchhof in Mainz (1752) (Döry, op. cit., p. 209). Particularly attractive is the great swathe of cartaceous drapery which envelops the figure in what Dory describes as a 'chalice', with the effect that she appears almost pregnant (Döry, op. cit., p. 219). With its striking gold and silver polychromy, the Virgin is a powerful and beguiling illustration of German Rococo sculpture.