72 Items in this Learning Collection
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Copyright
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Study for a Chapel in Vienna

Accession Number
1960/2.124

Title
Study for a Chapel in Vienna

Artist(s)
Andrea Pozzo

Artist Nationality
Italian (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1662-1709

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

Dimensions
29 1/8 in. x 24 1/8 in. ( 74 cm x 61.3 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28 2009
As a lay member of the Jesuit Order, Andrea Pozzo was profoundly influenced by the order’s view that visual images and theater were effective tools for teaching Catholic beliefs to the masses and offering religious epiphany. This study for a chapel in Vienna reveals how Pozzo could orchestrate architecture, sculpture, and painting into a decorative program that would transform an interior space into a dramatic religious spectacle. The rectangular chapel is depicted in the painting with the sidewalls bent outward at an angle in order to provide a clearer view of the decoration. The chapel design centers upon a sarcophagus placed beneath a painted altarpiece of the Virgin and Child, which are both set within a semicircular architectural projection. Pozzo continues to blur the boundary between the artwork and the viewer’s space in the decoration on the sidewalls. With angels reaching vigorously outward, their wings overlapping the pilasters, or a female half-figure leaning out from the oval niche above the sarcophagus, Pozzo seeks to break down the distance between the viewers’ experience and the object of their devotional practice.

Subject matter
This study for a chapel in Vienna reveals how Pozzo could orchestrate architecture, sculpture, and painting into a seamless decorative program that could transform an interior space into a dramatic religious spectacle. The compelling power of the visual spectacle derives from his ability to blur the boundary between the artwork and the viewer’s space.

Physical Description
This study depicts a rectangular chapel with the side walls bent outward at an angle in order to provide a clearer view of the decoration. The chapel design centers upon a sarcophagus placed beneath a painted altarpiece of the Virgin and Child, which are both set within a semicircular architectural projection that extends dynamically from the wall. On the left the pair of angels that support a large oval-shaped painting reach vigorously outward, their wings overlapping the pilasters. On the right appears another sarcophagus surmounted by a pair of putti. Leaning out from the oval niche above the sarcophagus is a female half-figure—probably a portrait of the deceased—making a gesture of devotion toward the altar.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
study

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
altarpieces
chapels (rooms or structures)
coffins
oil paintings (visual works)

3 Related Resources

Early Modern Interior Design
(Part of: Early Modern European Architecture and Interior Design)

& Author Notes

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