Im in Västerås from time to time and last time I visited Domkyrkan, a church with a lot of items from the 1600s, perhaps the most interesting one is the Depkenska dopkapellet made in Lübeck as a gift to the churh and delivered 1622 from the family Depken.
A friend of mine is working with exhibiting historical artifacts at the church and according to him the painting is all original on the sculptures.
Im fascinated with the artwork of it and would like to learn more.
One of the herms is very close to the ones at the front railing on Vasa. Is this a special character? All the herms are slightly different versions of him and the others are a woman. There are also versions of him with a fishtail.
When we where discussing the sculptures we both wondered why so many of the male herms have female bodies? Im pretty sure Ive seen that on some Vasa sculptures also. Is there a known reason for this? I suppose it could be Hermaphroditus as he/she is sometimes described as an earlier symbol of the marriage between man and woman. And isnt the herms on Vasa below women on the backside?
If anyone could point me to litterature of the sculptural art of the 1600s it would be great!
(Vasa herm on the left, the right one is on Depkenska dopkapellet.)
Hi Matti, The style of herm you see in Västerås and on Vasa was a popular design in architectural woodcarving in the first half of the 17th century, copied from a common element in Greek and Roman architecture. The bulging pectorals seem to be common feature on male figures in the German style of carving, and I do not think there is any symbolism in it. Men and women are distinguished in the carvings of the period by facial features, hairstyle and clothing rather than by body shape (note that all of Michelangelo's women are big, muscular ladies, essentially men with breasts). This type of sculpture is discussed in Hans Soop's book, The Power and the Glory, on the Vasa sculptures, with references to other works.
Thanks Fred, I will buy that book! I would have guessed that the obvious female characteristics would have had a meaning or reason; there seems to be a logic in the aesthetics of the time. But as you said they could simply be copies of the herms popular in ancient greek, but the original meaning got lost.