Monument to eternal love

The Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill

Statue of Luke the Evangelist in the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff
TWO GENIUS SCULPTORS AT WORK

THE FOUR EVANGELISTS

The wall niches in the chapel house statues of the four evangelists: Matthew, Luke, Mark and John. These statues demonstrate the competition between the two greatest sculptors of the classic period: Johann Heinrich Dannecker and Bertel Thorvaldsen.

View of the chapel and the first two evangelists in the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Roland Rossner

The statues bring the room to life.

DECORATIVE STATUES

The four evangelists are the only statues to adorn the chapel. The monumental figures captivate the viewer's eye. The king commissioned the four figures in 1822. They were designed by the two most important sculptors of the time: Johann Heinrich Dannecker (1758–1841) and Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844). The statues were to be made of the finest material, so only Carrara marble would do.

THE USUAL MODEL

The posture, facial shape and Roman clothing of three of the evangelists are in line with the monumental design. They adhere to the depiction of evangelists used since the Middle Ages. Each statue holds a tablet and is identified by their symbol: the angel for Matthew, the ox for Luke, and the lion for Mark.

Statue of Luke the Evangelist in the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff
Statue of Matthew the Evangelist in The Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Statues of two of the evangelists in the chapel: Luke and Matthew.

Statue of Mark the Evangelist in the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Mark the Evangelist.

FROM ROME TO STUTTGART

These three evangelists were sculpted in Rome and were ready to be displayed in the sepulchral chapel in 1825. Luke was sculpted by Dannecker's student, Theodor Wagner. Dannecker's greatest competitor, Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, drew the sketches for the statues of Mark and Matthew. He delegated the actual sculpting to his Württemberg assistants Johann Leeb and Johann Nepomuk Zwerger.

Statue of John the Evangelist in the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Dannecker's statue of John stands out.

DANNECKER SEEKS NEW EXPRESSION

Johann Heinrich Dannecker, the king's first court sculptor, created John the Evangelist. In creating this statue, Dannecker broke with sculpting tradition and attempted to express religious sentiment through other artistic means. He sculpted the evangelist as young, beardless and with an animated expression. He also chose not to include John's symbol, the eagle. Dannecker's John was the last of the four statues to be displayed in the chapel, in the summer of 1828.

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