Father Martin Stredonius with a View of Brno from the East
Governor’s Palace, Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
Moravian Gallery, Brno
Martin Antonín Lublinský (c.1630, Lesnica-1690, Olomouc)
Oil on canvas
h: 232 cm; w: 137.5 cm
Private collection, Brno
The scene glorifies the Jesuit priest and teacher Martin Středa (known as Stredonius, practicing in Gliwica in 1587; moving to Brno in 1649). Set in 1645, when the Swedish besieged the city of Brno during the Thirty Years' War, the painting depicts Středa's miraculous ascension to heaven at the very moment the attackers withdrew. The final and largest cannon ball aimed at Brno is said to have landed at Father Středa's feet where it remained, motionless. A besieger holding a cannon ball is shown in the bottom left-hand corner, while the focal point of the picture is the priest accepting holy wisdom through the Virgin Mary, expressed by a reflection of divine light. Středa is wearing a medallion with a portrait of the emperor, which accentuates his role as a defender not only of Brno but also of the whole Habsburg empire. In the top right-hand corner appear Jan Kapistrán (Capistranus) and another church father. Capistranus preached in Brno in 1451 and was also believed to possess supernatural powers. The veduta of Brno shows the fortified character of the city, with Špilberk castle.
General Ludvík Raduit de Souches, commander of the Brno defense during the Swedish siege complies: “It appears that the bravery of the city defense was strengthened by fervent prayers and continuous fasting on the part of Father Středa, through which he transmuted power from heaven to defend and ensure the safety of the besieged. The enemy eventually saw that, having mobilised all their military efforts and set all kinds of traps, the spirit of the city was strong and unbreakable, and that it involved supernatural protection …” Stredonius is said to have had the power of being in two places at once and of levitating during meditation. He wrote a biography of the martyred priest Jan Sarkander, a document that played a major part in the dissemination of the latter's cult and eventual canonisation as patron saint of Moravia and counterpart to St. John of Nepomuk.
The cult of Martin Středa was promoted through prints of a similar composition. (Brno City Archive).
Moravian Gallery, Brno
Order of Jesuits, Brno
The picture is thought to have been commissioned by the Brno Jesuit Václav Škodovský. The authorship, originally ascribed to M. Willman, was determined by Dr. Vlasta Kratinová, curator of the Moravian Gallery collections. Lublinský produced several paintings for Brno clients at the time, such as The Allegory of Justice (Old Brno Abbey) and The Guardian Angel for Count Dietrichstein (Church of St. Thomas).
The picture was donated to the Brno Picture Gallery – which came into existence as part of the Francis Museum, Brno – by Provincial Councillor Franz Georg Eberle in 1821, shortly after its establishment. The painting also featured in the museum’s first exhibition held in the Episcopal courtyard.
Jan Tenora, Život sluhy Božího P. Martina Středy z Tovaryšstva Ježíšova, Brno, 1898.
Milan Togner, Antonín Martin Lublinský, Olomouc, 2004, p. 228, cat. 6. 1. 20.
Petra Zelenková, „Protegam Urbe istam (Budu štítem tomuto městu)“. Panna Marie a páter Martin Středa jako ochránci Brna na dvou augsburských mědirytinách ze 17. století, in: Lubomír Konečný – Jiří Kroupa – Michaela Šeferisová-Loudová, Orbis Artium. K jubileu Lubomíra Slavíčka, Brno 2009, s. 341–352.
Zora Wörgötter "Father Martin Stredonius with a View of Brno from the East" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;BAR;cz;Mus11;3;en&id=portraits
Prepared by: Zora WörgötterZora Wörgötter
AFFILIATION: Moravian Gallery in Brno
TITLE: Museum Curator and Local Co-ordinator
Zora Wörgötter studied Applied Painting at the Secondary School of Applied Arts, Video Art (Faculty of Fine Arts) at the University of Technology in Brno and Art History and Ethnology (Faculty of Arts) at Masaryk University, Brno. She has worked at the Moravian Gallery since 1997 and was curator of the Ancient Art Collection up until 2008. Specialising in Dutch and Central European painting of the 17th and 18th centuries, she has participated in the preparation of several exhibitions, catalogues and research projects in the Czech Republic and abroad, and published in the Moravian Gallery Bulletin, Opuscula historiae artium, and other journals. She is co-ordinator of the Art History Database www.ahice.net for the Czech Republic.
Copyedited by: Jiří KroupaJiří Kroupa
AFFILIATION: Department of the History of Art (Faculty of Arts) Masaryk
Professor Jiří Kroupa studied Art History, History and Sociology Masaryk University, Brno. He was a curator at the Kroměříž Museum and the Moravian Gallery in Brno before joining the staff at Masaryk University in 1988 (Head of the Department 1992–2002; Professor 1999 to present). His particular fields of interest are in the history of architecture, 18th-century cultural history and the methodology of art history. His long list of publications includes an edition on the architect Franz Anton Grimm and an essay “The alchemy of happiness: the Enlightenment in the Moravian context”. He was contributing editor for the volume Dans le miroir des ombres. Moravie a la age baroque. 1670–1790 (2002).
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 04