Monday, January 24, 2011

Shine Your Codpiece Mister?

The cloister that adjoins the new Volkskunst Museum to the Hofkirche had a light dusting of snow that was starting to accumulate as the day progressed. It was still snowing late into the evening so it must be covered in a white blanket by now.

The original intent this morning was to visit the Hofkirche in Innsbruck and see the funeral monument commissioned to commemorate Maxmilian I by his grandson Ferdinand I. Access to the church is through the new Tiroler Volkskunst Museum and we ended up spending almost all our time visiting the beautifully designed displays there - including some perfectly preserved and remarkable rooms from the Gothic period in the Tirol. After almost two hours we finally did make our way across the snow covered cloister to the Hofkirche and Maxmilian's cenotaph.

Though originally of Gothic design the Hofkirche has bee altered over the years by various monarchs and now has an overlay of the Baroque though, thank heavens, not the Rococo so beloved of many Austrian royals.
Though his original intention was to move his grandfather's remains to the newly constructed church, Ferdinand finally respected Maxmilian's wishes and left his body in its simple tomb at Wiener Neustadt. However Ferdinand went ahead with the project and employed some of the the best painters, sculptors and craftsmen to complete a church and a monument built to the glory of God and the Habsburgs.

The pious Maxmilian is flanked by the Four Virtues on the top of the black marble cenotaph inscribed with bas-reliefs of scenes from his life.
The cenotaph is surrounded by an elaborate iron and brass grill and bears scenes from the Emperor's life: important alliances (matrimonial and otherwise), victories (it would appear the good Emperor and his clan suffered no defeats) and events of importance to the Habsburg dynasty. They are based on woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer and carved in white marble. The entire monument took some 80 years to complete.

The Emperor is accompanied by 28 bronze statues - 14 on each side - representing Habsburg ancestors, members of his family and famous heroes. Unusually 8 of the figures are Habsburg women who figured prominently in the family history and alliances.

But the bronze Maximilian in pious prayer on top of the monument is not alone. He is flanked by 28 slightly larger than life size (anywhere from 200 to 250 cm (6 1/2 to 8 1/2 feet) bronze statues. They are remarkably detailed likenesses of ancestors, relatives and heroes. I guess the "hero" category explains the legendary King Arthur being amongst the elect!

But what I don't understand is the shine on Rudolph I's codpiece???? Normally when a bronze statue has that sort of polish it means that visitors have been touching it - witness the shining toes on the right foot of the statue of San Pietro in St Peter's Basilica. Touching St Peter's toe? Okay that I can sort of understand but what sort of blessing do you get from touching Rudolph's crotch?

24 gennaio - San Francesco di Sales

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2 comments:

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

irresistible urge to touch a cod piece?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Give it a rub for luck! The codpiece, I mean, of course.