Ruth Ezra

Veit Stoss Studies: Trip to Kraków


With the generous support of the Society for Renaissance Studies, I travelled to Kraków in March 2019 in order to further my dissertation research on Veit Stoss (ca.1447-1533). Stoss’s most celebrated work, the high altar for St Mary’s Basilica (1477-1489), is currently undergoing a multi-year conservation treatment. Dr Jarosław Adamowicz, the head conservator for the project, took me on a tour of the studio and shared with me the preliminary results of his team’s research. I got to climb the scaffolding now erected around the altarpiece, allowing me to see eye-to-eye with Stoss’s monumental carvings. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Other experts and conservators at work on the project answered my queries, and I left with a much deeper understanding of Stoss’s sculptural practice—though of course, questions remain. During my trip to Poland, I also spent time at the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace, a branch of the National Museum in Kraków, home to Stoss’s stonecarving, Christ on the Mount of Olives (ca.1485-90). Dr Wojciech Marcinkowski, a curator at the museum, walked me through the history of the relief’s conservation treatments, including the details of the most recent campaign (1990). Together, we discussed the composition of the carving’s stone substrate and the historiography surrounding its original location and installation; we have since continued the conversation electronically. I am grateful to the SRS scheme for facilitating such invaluable contact with Kraków’s expert conservators and curators. I look forward to our collaborating in the future.