Klosterarbeit: Madonnen-Bildtafel aus Oberschönenfeld

Museum Oberschönenfeld


In the centre of the tableau, framed behind glass, is a wax bust of the Madonna with inset glass eyes, covered by a wide veil with a mighty crown on top. The clothing stands out clearly from the surrounding field due to the gold embroidery. The field consists of flowers and vegetable shapes in very dense and sculptural trimming, crafted using various techniques and materials. Four strips creating the frame pick up on the ornamentation of the curved decorative panels and lend the tableau great depth.

According to comparative objects and stylistic features, the tableau was created around 1730 in the Cistercian abbey of Oberschönenfeld (district of Augsburg). Its provenance also confirms this: until 1989, it was located in Schloss Leitheim castle (Kaisheim, Donau-Ries district), which served as a summer residence for the abbots of the Kaisheim Imperial Abbey before secularisation; Oberschönenfeld was subject to them as an affiliated monastery. The creators of this outstanding testimony of "praying with hands" are Sisters M. Luitgardis Weiß (died 1737), M. Johanna Mayr and Abbess M. Victoria Farget (died 1742).

The production of such works by nuns combined the commandment to work according to the Rule of St. Benedict with the requirements of enclosure and meditative immersion in the life of the Mother of God, who is especially venerated in the Cistercian order. At the same time, monastery works were also used as representative gifts for guests.