The Freiburg Minster "Silver Altar", 18. Jh.

About the object

The silver altar is composed of works of art mainly made by 18th-century Augsburg goldsmiths and silversmiths. Since 1784, it has been used to decorate the tabletop of the high altar on high feast days, especially during Corpus Christi. In 1990, the silver altar was transferred to the Augustiner Museum on permanent loan. To this day, it is still set up in the Freiburg Minster from Easter to Corpus Christi (partly / currently completely).
Apart from a few exceptions, the individual parts of the altar were made for the prayer room of the "Great Latin Congregation", which held its meetings in the academic Gymnasium (grammar school) built in 1725-27 in the Jesuitengasse (today Bertholdstraße), which later became the university library. The members of this association attached to the Jesuit Order included aristocrats, civil servants, professors and doctors - scholars in general. After it had been dissolved in 1783 by order of Emperor Joseph II, like many religious communities, the altar was put up for sale and was acquired for the Minster.

The oldest coherent complex is the altar hanging. It depicts Mary with the Christ Child at the centre between St. Thomas Aquinas, on the left, and Ivo. St. Luke and St. Francis Xavier are depicted on either side. Thus, the Queen of the Congregation, as well as the faculty patrons of theology and law, medicine and philosophy, are assembled. The work, bearing the imprimatur of Franz Thaddäus Lang, dates from 1736/37.

A little later than the date of the antependium, this crucifix was made by Franz Christoph Mäderl, also in Augsburg. (He also made six of the candlesticks.) Christ Crucified was connected to the tabernacle standing on the altar tabletop, which in turn was integrated into the elaborate altar structure.

Altar Arrangement
Franz Xaver Gäs from Freiburg made the cornice for the altar, Franz Ignaz Berdolt from Augsburg made the more artistically demanding parts, including the shield of Mary at the foot of the cross and the two reliquaries in pyramid form. From a total of ten large candlesticks, the six larger examples bear Mäderl's master’s mark.

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