Switzerland: Prestigious Exhibit of Sixteenth Century Fribourg Sculpture

Source: FSSPX News

The Museum of Art and History in Fribourg (MAHF) is showing an exhibition of Fribourg sculpture between 1500 and 1560, entitled Sculpture 1500.  Thanks to the leather work and cloth industries, the medieval town of Fribourg in the fifteenth century enjoyed a kind of economic peak.  But it was around 1500 that the city saw a great artistic flowering.  In the 1520s, during the time of the spread of the Protestant Reformation, the government of Fribourg decided to remain faithful to the Catholic faith.  The city and its region have preserved the fine art treasures of the late Middle Ages when sculptors from Germany exported their works to Italy and France.

The exhibit, which runs from October 14, 2011 to February 19, 2012, highlights this splendid gathering together of a hundred pieces which have been scattered in churches, museums and private collections in Switzerland and other countries.  The French National Museum of the Middle Ages, known as the Hôtel de Cluny, loaned a small altarpiece and reliefs of an altarpiece by Peter Falck (1468-1519), famous burgomeister (chief magistrate) and Fribourg humanist.

The presentation of the works is organized around two themes: creation and function.  The exhibit highlights the creative process of sculptures and medieval altarpieces as well as their function in the liturgy.  It presents a selection of saints of particular importance to Fribourg: Sts. Nicolas, Catherine and Barbara, the patrons of the city; St. Eligius the patron of metalsmiths; St. Ulrich who prevented a dangerous fire in 1472 in the blacksmith district; St. Ours who cures earaches and St. Christopher who protects from unexpected death.  Several altarpieces are presented in a completely new way: separated during the centuries, the painted panels and sculptures have been put back together for the exhibit.

Verena Villiger, director of MAHF, explained that this long-term project, which began almost ten years ago, would not have been possible without the help of the University of Fribourg and its Chair of the History of Medieval Art, as well as financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the State of Fribourg.  She went on to say, “A project such as this which involves putting together an exhibit and various publications creates such a heavy workload that a museum can only develop one every five to ten years.”  For five years Sculpture 1500 has utilized two historians, one of whom, Stephan Gasser, is the curator of the exhibit, as well as a restaurateur and a photographer.

The Museum of Art and History, 12 rue de Morat, Fribourg, is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 6:00pm and on Thursdays from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Telephone: 026 305 51 40. (Sources : apic/mahf – DICI n°244 du 11/11/11)

You can also read:
Italy: Exhibition of Filippino Lippi and Sandro Botticelli in Rome