Baltazar Fontana, Hipolit House, Kraków

Baltazar Fontana was the greatest master of late Baroque stucco sculpture in central Europe at that time. He was born in 1661 in northern Italy, in Chiasso near Como. Although he worked in Bavaria, Moravia, and Poland, he made many return trips to his native village and died there in 1733. He was greatly influenced by the art of Bernini, to whose creative solutions he often returned. Fontana's most important work in Poland is the decoration of the St. Anna's Church in Kraków. He also worked in the parish church in Wieliczka and for the Clarist Order in Stary Sącz and Kraków. For Kraków's Dominicans, in the St. Hyacinth chapel, he built a new gravestone. He also decorated palaces and tenements: Krzysztofory, dom pod Gruszką (House Under the Pear) and the Hipolit House. Painting and sculpture were arts of equal importance for Baltazar Fontana, who combined them into an inseparable unity. Gradually, smoothly, Fontana’s sculptural forms pass from a two-dimensional plane into increasingly convex and three-dimensional shapes to complete the sculpture. He also incorporated natural light into his compositions, which added an even more 'painterly' look to them. His work had great influence on later Polish art, especially in the 18th century. For many artists, Fontana’s style became the one worthiest of imitation.

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