Saint John of Nepomuk

Matthias Rauchmiller

Matthias Rauchmiller - Saint John of Nepomuk
A clay sketch (bozzetto) for the renowned sculpture on Charles Bridge, made for the alleged 300th anniversary of St John of Nepomuk’s martyrdom, at the costs of Matthias Gottfried Freeman Wunschwitz. Johann Brokof executed a life-size carving after this small bozzetto – an authentic model for the bronze sculpture, cast by Hieronymus Heroldt in Nuremberg. This rarely preserved bozzetto was the precursor to the representation of the bearded priest-canon with a biretta on his head, dressed in a cassock, surplice and almuce over his shoulders. The Viennese sculptor slightly emphasized the contrapposto of the small figure with narrow shoulders, crowned by the martyr’s head inclined to one side, with the saint’s left hand embracing the crucifix as if in a gesture protecting the dead Saviour. In this small statuette of a foreign origin, and its enlarged form on Charles Bridge, the main type of St John of Nepomuk’s figure was constituted, subsequently repeated in a number of others, deep into the 19th century. Similar to Brokof’s wooden model, this bozzetto for the sculpture of St John of Nepomuk remained in the property of the Wunschwitz family, becoming an object of cult. This can also be supported by the fact that after 1741 the donor’s grandson had a case made for it, decorated in relief and gilt, as a small travelling altar, bearing the coat-of-arms of Johann Anton Cajetan Freeman Wunschwitz (1710–after 1749). The case for the statuette has also survived in the collection of the National Gallery in Prague (inv. no. P 614).
measurements: height 41 cm
material: terracotta with plaster and wooden accessories and fragments of gilt
technique: sculpture
inventory number: P 613
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters