LEICHER, Felix Ivo
(b. 1727, Wagstadt, d. 1812, Wien)

Saint Joseph Calasantius before the Virgin

1767
Oil on canvas, 182 x 115 cm
Kuny Domonkos Museum, Tata

According to the tradition this picture was ordered in Vienna by Schuperger Károly of Tata, for Tata's Piarists in 1767. Leicher, who worked in Vienna, was a pupil and protegé of the Piarists. He worked a lot for them, and made several altarpieces with the representation of St. Joseph of Calasance (1556-1648), the founder of the order. who was canonized in 1767. These pictures mainly refer to the educational activity of the order, and show the saint in a circle of pupils, as he recommends them to the patronage of Mary and the little Jesus who are appearing among the clouds. The theme is the same with this devout Tata painting: the boys, who wear the fashionable clothes of the time, are accompanied by St. Joseph and their guarding angel. The lighting of the picture which draws the spectator's look upwards, the expressive gestures, and the sweet, mild faces call to mind the art of Leicher's master, Franz Anton Maulbertsch. The Tata picture is one of the most harmonious works of Leicher in Hungary. He repeated this theme, with larger dimension and a changed composition, in Breznó's Piarist church (today Parish church) as well as in the altarpieces of the Nikolsburg (Mikoluv), Beneschau (Bensov u Prahy) and Nagykároly (Carei) Piarist churches. A painting of his with the same theme in the Viennese house of the Piarists has been engraved by J. A. Jidl in 1757.