Graubünden - Culture of Construction

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Chantun Grischun
Cantone dei Grigioni
The Waltensburg Master
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Kirche St. Georg*

7403 Rhäzüns
The richest example of a completely decorated church interior of the Middle Ages in Switzerland.

Located at a remote location on a wooded hill above the anterior Rhine. The patronage festival goes back to the local legend, which tells how St. George did missionary work in the Grisons in the middle of the 4th century. He leapt over the Rhine on his horse at this place to escape pagan pursecutors. Old parrish, mentioned 960; evidence of a Carolingian hall church with stilted apse and walled, open (?) entrance courtyard (atrium) were found during excavations when restauration took place in 1961-1963. The present-day complex consisting of a Romanesque nave with a flat ceiling and a transverse rectangular (the choir lies perpendicular to the nave) Gothic choir from the early 14th century with a cross rib vault. Tower on the south side of the choir perhaps 14th century, elevated in the 16th century. Painting fragments on the south wall of choir and nave from the 1st half of the 14th century: St. Christopher and St. George's battle with the dragon. New ceiling in the nave 1731 by Jakob Moron, new segmental arched windows at the same time. Polypthych by a south-German master dated 1522, from Tamins which was reformed 1546; restored 1994: the Mother of God shrine between St. John the Baptist and George, Felix (does not belong) and Martin; reliefs of St. Catherine (?) and St. Dorothea, Lawrence and James the Elder on the inside of the wings, the epiphany on the outside; the last judgement on the back of the shrine. Ancient (jointed) benches without backrests made of beams.

High Gothic frescoes by two artists. The earlier ones in the choir and choir arch by the Waltensburg Master ca. 1350, the newer ones on the walls of the nave are by a Rhäzüns master from the 2nd half of the 14th century.

Choir: the ribs painted colorfully to simulate rich profiles. Intertwined leaves between four large medallions with angels as evangelists in the vault caps (sectroids), Christ's countenance on the apex stone; Annunciation in the three vault shields (flanked by the fox and stork from Aesop's Fables), crucifixion and Mary's coronation; a heavily damaged adoration of the Magi, row of apostles and dono(u)r couple under a strongly meandering frieze with the coat of arms of Rhäzüns; St. Oswald and St. Nicholas in the embrasure; pedestal drapery (?).

Choir arch wall: the arch as well as the vault ribs of the choir drawn in illusory fashion. Three image bands with iconographically interesting, intertwined scenes of the wonder and passion of St. George on the wall under the merlon (battlement) frieze: King Dadianus shows the wheel and cauldron instruments of torture to the saint on the top right, next to it the miracle of St. George, who causes branches to grow out of the house of a poor widow; below that the crippled child of the widow is shown, on the left of it is the capture of St. George; On the top left Queen Alexandria is hung by her hair, whipped and then beheaded after her confession to Christianity, while St. George is put into a cauldron of boiling lead as he prays for her; the magician Anthanasios causes a demon to rise up out of a bursting steer in the middle band of pictures, the saint is tortured, hung and desecrated in the lower band, decapitated to the right of the choir arch; under the legend of St. George to the left is a madonna with a protective cape with kneeling donor and two women under the coat of arms of Rhäzüns; John the Baptist on the right above the masonry altar block; representaion of the battle with the dragon on the north wall of the nave.

Nave: three bands of single images from the 2nd half of the 14th century by the so-called Rhäzüns Master along the lengthwise (longer) walls and on the west wall. These distinguish themselves from the true form and carefully composed art of the Waltensburg Master by their linear and improvised representation of a type of paupers' bible. Scenes in loose order from the old and new testaments that are kept strictly disconnected. Further devotional images on the north wall: St. Nicholas with the three virgins above; the so-called Holiday Christ, Gregory Mass, local legend of the St. George leap over the Rhine, Archangel Michael as the soul weigher, the death and burial of the Mother of God below. Simple stately pewage 1661. Rectangular pulpit 1659.

(Kunstführer durch Graubünden, Hg. Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte. Eng. translation of the title: Art Guide of Graubünden, ed. Society for the History of Swiss Art, Zurich 2008. This book has only been published in German.)