Augsburg, 1775-77
Meister Ignatius Caspar Bertholt
Silver, chiseled, fire-gilt
Maker's mark „ICB“, city mark, assay groove
B ca 14 cm

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This pair of flaming hearts is a rare votive offering that was neither embossed nor cast, but rather chased from genuine silver sheet into an expressive three-dimensional form and fire-gilded. Thus, it is not surprising that the master, Ignatius Caspar Bertholt, marked  it with his initials and had it hallmarked as an Augsburg work. It hence can be concluded that it was made between 1775 and 1777,  serving its original owner as a precious and cherished offering.

Votive offerings, which played a particularly important role within Christian popular culture in the Alpine regions during the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, were gifted to places of religious importance as part of a plea or for thanksgiving. They were often linked to a vow and donated on the occasion or in the context of a pilgrimage – the votant thus hoped for the alleviation of distressing circumstances or thanked for betterment.

As offerings in the form of arms, legs and organs, often generically called “lungerl” (lungs), many of them reproduce human body parts in a naturalistic or abstract way. Other votive gifts, however, consist of narrative panels with an added ex voto or depict farm animals and symbols. Made of diverse materials, either by the votant or by workshops in small issue numbers, they attest to this day to a strong personal belief – as three-dimensional pleas they provide protection and support in daily life.

Published in: Raum für Objekte - Ariane Laue Kunsthandel, Kat.VII - Nr. 30, München 2020