CHRISTIAN STÖCKLIN (Geneva 1741 – Frankfurt 1795)
A Renaissance Church Interior
signed Stocklin in the lower right
oil on panel
6 x 7 inches (15 x 18 cm.)
Private Collection, Switzerland
Christian Stöcklin was born in Geneva, where he received his initial training as a painter before going on to Bologna to study with the architect, painter, and theatrical designer Antonio Galli Bibiena (1700 – 1774). By 1759 Stöcklin was in Rome; between 1761 and 1764 he contributed to the architectural decoration of theaters in Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg. The artist became a citizen of Frankfurt in 1766. In addition to various decorative and scenographic projects, he painted classical landscapes with ruins and architectural interiors—mostly churches, in the manner of the Flemish artists Hendrick van Steenwijck the Elder (ca. 1550 – 1603) and Pieter Neefs the Elder (1578 – 1656/1661), and it is upon these interiors which his fame rests.
His works formed part of the permanent collections of the museums of Braunschweig; Brighton; Cambridge, England; Dessau; Dresden; Frankfurt; Koblenz; London; Mainz; Munich; Munster; Stuttgart, and Uppsala among others.
Our composition is charming in its neat and precise presentation, bathed in a bright and clear light. The marble statue of a female saint in an architectural niche at the left foreground greets the viewer before his eye is led through the space between the tiled floor and the design of the ceiling echoed above. It is conceivable that the statue may represent St. Helena who was an empress and with her son, Constantine the Great, ruled over Constantinople. St. Helena is always depicted as elegantly dressed, wearing a crown or other headdress and holding a scepter, as is the statue of a saint in our painting. There is a marked influence of the seventeenth century Flemish trends in architectural painting, including the arches, columns, and capitals that are crisply executed and exquisitely ornamented. There are tiny figures walking toward the central naïve, one of whom is cloaked in red, brightening with a flash of color, the spiritual space.