Lieblingsstücke | Retabel mit dem Heiligen Georg und dem Apostel Bartholomäus

Lieblingsstücke | Retabel mit dem Heiligen Georg und dem Apostel Bartholomäus


My name is Marion Böhl. I’m a restorer-conservator for the Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art at the Bode-Museum and today I’ll be introducing my favourite object. It’s not my favourite just because I restored the work, but also because I really like it. It’s a small retable from Rabensdorf near Feldkirchen in Kärnten (Austria) that dates to around 1517. The small altar shows sculptures of Saint George and Saint Bartholomew at the centre and various legends attributed to saints depicted around them. I especially like this work because it not only tells stories on the front but on the reverse as well. What’s quite remarkable is that the reverse doesn’t show painted legends, but a narrative of the residents from the village where the altar was on display. On the reverse of the predella, in particular, village residents have immortalised themselves with their names and corresponding dates. They used red chalk, pencil and knives to inscribe their details on the work. It began in 1538. The small altar was created in 1517, so this process started 21 years after the work was made and ended in 1872. It was a truly continuous series that immortalised not only male residents of the village, but also its women. There is a Maria, an Anna, an Elisabeth. These names provide us with a direct connection to former times, as this little altar stood at that location for almost 500 years and local residents obviously had a very close relationship to it.

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