CHRISTIAN, Johann Josef
(b. 1706, Riedlingen, d. 1777, Riedlingen)

Biography

German sculptor and woodcarver. He studied under the sculptor Johann Eucharius Hermann (d. 1727) in Biberach an der Riss, but it is possible that he may have been more strongly influenced by the sculptor and stuccoist Diego Carlone, then working at Weingarten Abbey. His rare double gift as a woodworker and stucco sculptor was equalled only by Joseph Anton Feuchtmayr. His masterworks are considered to be the choir stalls in Zwiefalten Abbey and Ottobeuren Abbey.

In 1728 Christian settled in Riedlingen, although he was not granted citizen's rights there until 1736. Such early works as a Crucifixion group carved for the Hofkapelle at Messkirch (wood, 1738; Emmingen ab Egg, parish church) and a St Nicholas for the outside wall of the Provost's chapel at Mochental (stone, 1738-44; in situ) are rather stiff but reveal in the treatment of the heads the attempt to achieve a heightened expression of spirituality, a characteristic of his mature work.

In 1744 Christian received a commission to work in Zwiefalten Abbey, where until 1755 he created the choir stalls and numerous stucco figures for the high altar and nave and side chapels, working alongside the painter Franz Joseph Spiegler and the stucco master Johann Michael Feuchtmayer and under the direction of the architect Johann Michael Fischer. Subsequently, Christian was commissioned to work on the abbatial church of the Holy Trinity in Ottobeuren Abbey, for which the architect was once again Fischer and for which Christian created the choir stalls, with gilded reliefs, and the organ reliefs.

One of his sons, Franz Joseph Christian (1739-1798), became a sculptor and took over his father's workshop in Riedlingen.