Graubünden - Culture of Construction

alt_title_logo Kantonsbibliothek Graubünden
Chantun Grischun
Cantone dei Grigioni
The Waltensburg Master
back to overview

Reformierte Kirche*

7158 Waltensburg/Vuorz
The frescoes of the artist known as the Waltensburg Master can be counted among the best works of Early Gothic painting in Switzerland.

Built during the 12th century where a pre-Romanesque hall once stood, inclusion of an existing tower; nave raised around 1330; expansion of the chancel arch and vaulting of the choir prior to 1451; Late Gothic transformation around 1510-20; new nave ceiling and installation of gallery 1711; restored 1932-34 and 1970-77.

Rectangular hall with square choir. Romanesque tower from the 12th century with coupled Roman window and weighty Baroque onion dome in the north-west corner; next to it an open timbered porch under the same roof as the church. In the nave a flat coffered ceiling 1711 with stenciled ornaments; in the south wall one Romanesque and one late Gothic window. On the north pedestal of the choir arch the underlying rock is exposed. In the choir, a late Gothic portal to the northern sacristy (present-day archive room), next to it a late Gothic wall tabernacle with blind tracery and merlon completion; Romanesque arched windows in the apex; window with fish-blister (or fish-bladder, mouchette) tracery in the south wall. Gothic baptismal font with Baroque lid from the 17th century; polygonal pulpit 1672. Organ 1977.

Mural paintings or Frescoes*: on all interior walls and on the exterior construction from four periods, discovered 1932, restored and more comprehensively exposed 1970-77.

The oldest paintings in fresco technique around 1330 by the artist known as the Waltensburger Master, whose style of painting was influenced by the courtly ductus or characteristic style of the Early Gothic of the upper Rhine as well as by the traditions of the alpine countries. His figures stand out on the blue-black background and wear ochre, red and olive-green robes; Christ is always clothed in grey. On the exterior south wall of the nave remains of an epiphany, below it a row of saints and Archangel Michael, next to it weapons, crucifix and remains of St. Christopher; inside on the north wall of the nave an impressive Passion in two registers that are framed by horizontal ornamental bands, only the Last Supper separated from it; following that are single figures, the Saints Lucius, Florinus, Jacob the Elder and an unknown apostle above, Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and scene out of the legend of Nicholas below which overlaps onto the choir arch wall; on which saint (apostle?) with arrow and book above on the left as well as a fragment of the saint in half-profile, on the right Apostles John and Thomas (remains of apostle cycle), below it St. Conrad; on the eastern section of the south wall in the upper register a fragment of the three Apostles, below it St. Ambrosius as well as two holy bishops.

A Margaret cycle by an unknown master in lime painting around 1380 on the west exterior wall as well as the Temptation of St. Anthony on the inner south wall of the nave. From the third stage of lime painting around 1450-51 stem the linear paintings of the departing International Gothic period on the exterior building and in the choir as well as on the south interior wall of the nave: outside on the west face Christ's shroud, on the south side of the choir what is known as the Sunday Christ; on the interior choir walls, images in two picture strips with scenes from the life of John the Baptist and Jesus as well as apostles, saints, church fathers and the Coronation of Mary with evangelist medallions; on the inside of the choir arch, Judgment Day; in the jamb, saints as well as the crest of Rhäzüns; a mercy seat on the south nave wall.

From the fourth 'al fresco' layer of painting around 1510, St. Christopher on the south wall of the choir.

(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.)