Pfarrkirchen in the Mühl District
Hardwood, softwood, original gilding, painted decoration and marbling
Height 130 cm
The model in the Liebieghaus gives an impression of the type of altarpiece that was most common in the eighteenth century. Above a curved groundplan, the arched picture surround of the main section is flanked by columns. The lower storey with the altar represents the earthly domain, in which the Mass is celebrated. The central pictorial space was reserved for a demonstration of the faith, often by means of a Mariological subject. In the Liebieghaus model it is the Assumption of the Virgin that is shown.
The high altar for which this was a preparatory model now stands in the Church of the Assumption in Pfarrkirchen, a village in the Upper Austrian Mühl District. The architectural structure, the ornaments, the choice of saints, their postures and their garments correspond in all essentials to the Frankfurt design. Documents in the parish archive leave no doubt as to the attribution of both the high altar and the model to the sculptor Franz Stadler. However, the model not only served as a preparatory study but went on to be used as an altar for private worship, as is shown by traces of wax in the candle holders. It is not known in what church or chapel it was used.
In the period between 1731 and 1766, Stadler executed many altars for churches in the Austrian Mühl and Inn regions as well as in Lower Bavaria. Thus an oeuvre spanning more than thirty years has come down to us, and yet almost nothing is known about the artist. In a letter of 1735 on the subject of the payment due to him for the Pfarrkirchen altar, he referred to himself as a “sculptor belonging to the burgher class in Neufelden” (a town near Pfarrkirchen).