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Jorhan, Christian, l'ancien

Saint Joseph and the Christ Child


Jorhan, Christian, l'ancien
Griesbach, Bavaria, 1727 – Landshut, Bavaria, 1804


Saint Joseph and the Christ Child


About 1780-1790


Polychromed wood


121 x 70 x 57 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1959.Dv.5


Western Art

This sculpture was recently attributed to Christan Jorhan the Elder, a Bavarian sculptor well known for the fine quality of his works, which are among the masterpieces of German rococo art. Trained by his father, Jorhan studied in various cities, including Salzburg, Augsburg and later Munich, with Johann Baptist Straub, a sculptor at the court of Charles of Bavaria. Jorhan operated a productive workshop in Landshut, where he settled in 1755. Strongly influenced by Straub, his large output includes altar statues, pulpits and confessionals but also complete decors for chapels and churches.

The iconography of this Joseph emphasizes the saint’s youth rather than representing him as an aging paternal figure in the medieval and Renaissance tradition. It also emphasizes the bonds of affection between Joseph and his son. This sculpture, with its characteristic billowing drapery, asymmetrical spiral pose, precious polychrome and stylistic exuberance, is a late example of German rococo.

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