Ekes konventa epitāfija laikmeta dekoratīvās tēlniecības kontekstā
Ecke's Convent Epitaph in the Context of the Period's Decorative Sculpture
Languages of publication
Ecke’s Convent epitaph is among the most renowned monuments of decorative architectural sculpture in Riga’s early modern-period art history. This article aims to draw attention to the chronological problem of the epitaph’s sculptural part and ornamental frame, the iconographic content of the composition and printed samples as well as the formal analysis and stylistic influences. In 1589, Burgomaster, Burgrave and one of Riga’s best educated and influential patricians of the time, Nicolaus von Ecke, founded a home for the widows of the Small Guild poor craftsmen in a 15th century travellers’ shelter, undertaking the renovation of the house. Reconstruction of the main building took place in 1594–1596. In 1618, a stone epitaph was installed in the central part of the convent building; it became the compositional and thematic accent of the façade. The frame of the epitaph is shaped as an ornamental cartouche, using Mannerist expressive means – scrollwork, strapwork and floral motifs. The central part of the relief features a sculptural group illustrating the New Testament subject of Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery. The artist has represented the human figure in both low and high relief, in places approximating sculpture in the round. Background figures are made in the technique of rilievo schiacciato, achieving a painterly, vanishing effect. The figures have slender proportions and small, classically shaped heads with finely elaborated details. The high artistic level indicates the significance of some active European centre. The latest inspection (2018) has shown that the material used is most likely limestone. Since the 1930s, there had been a deep-seated assumption that different artists authored the epitaph’s frame and relief, the frame being made in Riga while the relief – imported from abroad. However, the inspection proved that the sculptural relief and the decorative frame are made of the same material. This allows us to hypothesise that both parts belonged to a unified compositional structure from the start, subjected to certain principles of proportioning. Initially the surface of Ecke’s Convent epitaph was probably polychrome, painted over many times later.
Publication order reference