Wartime losses

During World War II, St. Mary’s Church suffered considerable losses. Some of its works of art have not been recovered to this day.

The Altar of Veit Stoss during the war

As the war was abo­ut to start, action was taken to pro­tect the most valu­able histo­ri­cal arte­fact of St. Mary’s Basi­li­ca. In late Sep­tem­ber of 1939, the Altar of Veit Stoss was taken down. The sta­tu­es were trans­por­ted to San­do­mie­rz and the orna­men­tal seg­ments were hid­den in Kra­ków, but, after inten­si­ve inve­sti­ga­tion, the Nazis were able to find it and ship it to Nurem­berg. After the end of the war, the altar was reco­ve­red and retur­ned to Kra­ków in 1946. It under­went con­se­rva­tion and was sub­se­qu­en­tly set up at the Wawel Castle. It was retur­ned to St. Mary’s Chur­ch in 1957.

Stolen works of art

The Nazis sto­le nine pain­tings of bril­liant Ger­man pain­ter Hans Suess von Kulm­ba­ch, who cre­ated a series dedi­ca­ted to St. Cathe­ri­ne of Ale­xan­dria, three pain­ted panels of the altar of the Conver­sion of St. Paul by Micha­el Lan­cz von Kit­zin­gen, and nume­ro­us gil­ded arte­facts.

Missing works of art:

a3
Micha­el Lan­cz von Kit­zin­gen, altar of the Conver­sion of St. Paul, 1522The­re is a uni­que colo­ur pho­to of this pie­ce, whi­ch was taken befo­re the war by Adolf Guzik. Its ini­tial colo­urs were recre­ated thro­ugh com­pu­ter con­se­rva­tion.

 

b1
Main sta­ge of the altar of the Conver­sion of St. Paul

a1
Hans Suess von Kulm­ba­ch, Conver­sion of the Empress, oil on wood, 118 x 62 cm.
The pain­ting was a part of the series dedi­ca­ted to St. Cathe­ri­ne of the Boner cha­pel trip­ty­ch. Accor­ding to mono­gra­phers, the most pro­mi­nent featu­res inc­lu­ded the way the atti­re was pain­ted and the posh clo­thing of the empress with refi­ned colo­ur com­po­si­tion: blue dress and red head­dress.

 

a2
Hans Suess von Kulm­ba­ch, Exe­cu­tion of the Empress,  oil on wood, 118 x 62 cm.
The pain­ting was a part of the series dedi­ca­ted to St. Cathe­ri­ne from the Boner cha­pel trip­ty­ch. Accor­ding to mono­gra­phers, the pain­ting was a har­mo­nio­us com­po­si­tion of red, oran­ge, light gre­en, and pink. The colo­ur lay­er indi­ca­ted influ­en­ce of the Vene­tian scho­ol.