Chester Cathedral lends sculpture to Grosvenor Museum

26 October 2017

A German Baroque sculpture of the Ascension of Christ has been lent by Chester Cathedral to the city’s Grosvenor Museum.  

The oval high-relief sculpture, in carved and partly gilded limewood, was made in South Germany around 1700, possibly in or near the cities of Salzburg or Passau.  Comparable high-relief wooden panels can be found in some monastic choir stalls in this area.

Canon Jane Brooke, Acting Dean of Chester Cathedral, said:  “The sculpture was presented to Chester Cathedral by Mr & Mrs Reginald Potts in 1928.  From 1966-96 it was displayed on the back of the nave choir stalls, designed by George Pace, who probably had it cleaned and partly gilded.  It has been in store for the past twenty-one years, and I am delighted that it is now on display in the Grosvenor Museum.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, said:  “This sculpture is a fascinating part of the history of collecting and displaying art in Chester.  It is a characteristic work of the Baroque, one of the great styles of European art, but the museum has few examples of the Baroque or of art from continental Europe.  

"Christianity has been one of the greatest sources of inspiration for European art and culture, but the museum has few examples of religious art.  In all these ways, the sculpture significantly enriches the visitor experience offered by the Art Gallery at the Grosvenor Museum, and we are very grateful to Chester Cathedral for so generously lending it.”

 The Ascension of Jesus Christ occurred, forty days after his Resurrection from the dead, as he stood with his apostles on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem.  The Bible (Acts of the Apostles 1:9-11) records that “as they watched, he was lifted up, and a cloud removed him from their sight.  As he was going, and as they were gazing intently into the sky, all at once there stood beside them two men in white who said, ‘Men of Galilee, why stand there looking up into the sky?  This Jesus, who has been taken away from you up to heaven, will come in the same way as you have seen him go.’” 

The sculpture shows the figure of Christ, seated on a cloud, making the sign of blessing with his right hand.  There should be eleven apostles, but the sculptor only had room for six, along with the two angels (who are shown as beardless men).  Two apostles turn to gaze at Christ and one receives the angel’s message, while the others discuss the event.     

The Grosvenor Museum is open Monday – Saturday 10.30-5 and Sunday 1-4, admission free, donations welcome.  

Councillor Gittins with Canon Jane Brooke 

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