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Josef Winterhalder The Younger (1743-1807), Maulbertsch's best Pupil

Winterhalder was the offspring of a ramifying German dynasty of artists. He learnt fresco painting from Maulbertsch to become one of the leading masters of late baroque wall painting flourishing at the end of the 18th century in Central Europe. He was born in Vöhrenbach in the Black Forest, his father was a sculptor. At the age of nine he was sent to his uncle, sculptor Josef Winterhalder (the Elder) in Moravia, for apprenticeship. It was probably with the painter Josef Stern of Brünn (Brno) that he switched over to painting, and between 1763 and 1768 he was Franz Anton Maulbertsch's assistant. He participated in executing the frescoes in Bratislava (Pozsony), Schwechat, Halbturn (Féltorony) and Dyje (Mühlfraun). Winterhalder settled in a small southern Moravian town Znojmo (Znaim) to found a family. His most significant monumental works are tied to this area: the frescoes and altar pictures of the Benedictine abbey of Rajhrad (Raigern), the frescoes of the provincial hall in Brno (Brünn) and those in the refectory of the Premonstratensian monastery at Zábrodovice (Obrowitz, Brno) from the 1770s. The latter two works are on historical themes, demonstrating his own idiom of colours and forms as well as his main asset, the virtuosic depiction of pseudo sculptures. The ceiling frescoes and pictures for the side altars of the Zábrodovice church were made in 1782.

During Joseph II ecclesiastic commissions were fewer. Among enlightened Moravian noblemen Winterhalder found new clients: he decorated several of their mansions in neo-classical taste. After Maulbertsch's death bishop János Szily invited him to Szombathely to execute the ceiling frescoes after his late master's plans. He completed two of the three large frescoes between 1798 and 1800. Since in spring 1945 the work was destroyed, today the Madonna chapel preserves Winterhalder's work in Szombathely, together with the reconstruction of the ceilings in his spirit.

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