One More Opinion about the Signature on the façade of the Cistercian Church at Wachock
Jeszcze jeden głos na temat sygnatury na fasadzie kościoła OO. Cystersów w Wąchoku
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The interpretation of the small inscription on the southern surface of the buttress in the north-western corner of the west elevation of the Cistercian church at Wachock is of considerable importance for the result of a discussion about the artistic origins of the four oldest Cistercian abbeys in Little Poland (Jedrzejów, Sulejów, Wachock, and Koprzywnica) which are some of the most interesting elements of 13th century artistic heritage m Poland, Their architecture and decoration had for long been linked with the Cistercian art of Burgundy, at the same time their builders being thought to have come from France, although from the early 20th century some resemblance of the church and monastery at Wachock to the Cistercian architecture in Italy was also indicated. In the late 1950s or early l960s the inscription F SIMON was discovered on the façade of the Wachock church as well as in all probability a mason's mark incised next to it. The inscription was regarded as contemporary with the building of the church and interpreted as the signature of the architect Simon responsible for the erection of the entire monastic complex; what is more, he was identified with one of the builders of the Cistercian abbey of San Galgano in Val d'Elsa in Tuscany. In the end, the researchers accepted the hypothesis that a large and exceptionally prolific masons' lodge arrived in Little Poland from Tuscany and was active here between 1217 and 1239. Nevertheless, epigraphic considerations (classical Roman capitals) weigh in favour of the post-medieval date of the Wachock inscription. In. the second half of the 16th and in the 17th century the church and monastery at Wachock were repeatedly remodelled, and Simon's signature appears on one of those parts of the church which underwent the most extensive alterations then. Also the castle at Debno near Wojnicz, refashioned c. 1583-1586, and the tomb of Bishop Piotr Kostka (c. 1595) in the collegiate church at Chelmza bear the signature 'Simon' in capitals which is related to the Cracow builder of Italian descent Jan de Simon (d. 1626), who at the beginning of the 17th century directed large-scale building work in the convent of Poor Clares in Stary Sacz, similar in character to the work carried out in the late 16th century at Wachock. All the structures linked with De Simon were decorated with sgraffitto which also appeared some elevations of the Wachock monastery. Thus it was most probably Jan de Simon who directed the work of remodelling the church and perhaps also part of the monastery at Wachock and who commemorated his contribution with his signature on the church façade.
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