• Neil Allen

Fr Roten #43: Austria - As it was in the beginning

As It Was in the Beginning John Schnegg

The artist, John Schnegg, works in the tradition of his homeland, Tyrolia. The style is oriental, an attempt to reconstruct the nativity "as it was in the beginning." This tradition, initiated by Austrian artists at the turn of the last century, uses "near oriental" (mid-Eastern) architecture, dress, and ethnic characteristics. These are mixed in with typically Tyrolean elements, in particular the elaborate setting, the painted landscape of the Holy Land, and a host of angels in various positions and roles (Gloria angel, angels calling the shepherds, musicians, and even a guardian angel). John Schnegg is a woodcarver and the descendant of a crèche crafters dynasty known in Tyrolia since the eighteenth century. His figures, all wood carved, are patterned on the so-called peasant style. The harsh traits of the face and strong colors of the dress highlight the "ordinariness" of the Incarnation. They contrast with the smooth artistry of the figures' postures and movements.

Reprinted with permission: University of Dayton - Marian Library Collection. All rights reserved.

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