Pietà of Wopfing
Pietà of Wopfing
Pietà of Wopfing
Pietà of Wopfing

c. 1420–1430


Dom Museum Wien
On loan from the Parish Church Wopfing, Lower Austria


Medieval art

On view

Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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The Mother of God mourns her son

The mourning Mother of God and her dead son are depicted in a highly naturalistic manner.Christ's wounds and the feelings of his mother are shown clearly in order to awaken the congregation's sympathy.

Most medieval sculptures are referred to by their provenance for want of a signature by name. This also holds true for this sculpture from the church in Wopfing, Lower Austria. Heavily overpainted and with the missing body parts of the figure of Jesus replaced, the sculpture was part of its high altar. The pietà was elaborately restored in the 1980s. The original coloring was exposed and the later added hands and feet of Christ were removed to obtain the original state. The original was handed over to the museum as a loan, while a copy was made for the church in Wopfing.

The pietà was one of the most popular medieval subjects aimed at exciting the congregation’s sympathy. Mary’s cheeks and eyes are severely reddened. Together with her knit brows, this endows her countenance with an expression of grief. That she holds the corner of her veil in her left hand conveys the impression that she is about to dry her tears. The drops of blood on her head hint at the crucifixion and deposition from the cross during which the blood of the crucified has dripped down on her. The corpse lies on Mary’s knees; the upper part of the body appears to be stiff and is only supported by Mary’s right hand. Jutting out over the base, it livens up the composition. The crucified wears the crown of thorns; blood has leaked from his wounds. A trail of blood runs from the wound in his side across the loincloth down to his right leg. The hands were certainly crossed originally, displaying the crucifixion marks like the feet. The body is rendered in a very realistic manner: the brow and the temples of Jesus are furrowed, and we can make out a few veins. The eyes are almost closed; the mouth is slightly open—we do not depend on the context to identify the represented figure as dead.