Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fritz Geiges

In 1835 he was christened Alois Sigmund Friedrich Geiges but he insisted that they call him Fritz. He has influenced Freiburg's cultural heritage dramatically. A well-known example is his impressive painting of St. Georges at the Schwabentor (Swabian Gate).

©miJoergens Wikipedia
 Another example are the stained-glassed windows of Sankt Johannes (St. Jean's Church) that Geiges created in the years 1898 to 1901.

Emperor Saint Heinrich II.
 He was canonized being
the donor of Basel's cathedral.
 Here he carries a model
of the Johanneskirche
In Mediaeval style: Professor Fritz Geiges
 as donor figure in a corner of one of his
stained-glass windows.
In the bottom left Geiges' coat of
arms, the Freiburg raven.
In his young years Geiges was one of the founders of the still existing Breisgau Geschichtsverein (historical society) "Schau-ins-Land". The first edition of the Geschichtsverein's annual book carries his handwriting. He made nearly all of the drawings.

Page 77 of the first year edition of the journal "Schau-ins-Land" written and drawn by Geiges
During his life Fritz was a workaholic and was known throughout the 2nd Reich for his "historicizing art". On invitation of Emperor Wilhelm II. he conceived the decoration of Berlin's Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (memorial church). Wilhelm was impressed and attributed to Fritz the title professor. This made him so proud that he signed all his future works with Professor Fritz Geiges.

Restored mosaic in the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche conceived by Fritz Geiges
showing some of the Prussian royals ©JoJan Wikipedia
In Freiburg Geiges restored the sculptures in the Münster church port in 1890. Before he had made watercolor paintings of all the objects. Based on these paintings a second restoration of the sculptures was started in 2001 and terminated in 2004, i.e., the Mediaeval  figures were cleaned and restored to the state Geiges had documented in the late 19th century. The Münsterbauverein took the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the second restoration to honor Fritz Geiges with an exhibition, a series of lectures, and guided tours: Gothic in the Workshop.

Honoring Professor Fritz Geiges:
Gotik im Atelier
Group in Freiburg's church porch: Visitation
of Our Lady. Both Mary and her cousin
Elisabeth are bearing child.
Wall painting by Fritz Geiges 1909 showing the end of Dr. Faustus in Staufen.
When M. Hickel restored the painting in 1994 he forgot to add Geiges' title.
Following his success with the restoration of the statues of the Münster porch the city council entrusted Geiges, the expert on stained glass, with the restoration of the Mediaeval windows in 1917. He worked according to his ideas rarely observing the maxim of monument preservation: Niemals restaurieren, möglichst nur konservieren (Never restore, if possible only conserve). In the 1920 Geiges was highly criticized for his "restoring vandalism".

Today visitors of Freiburg's Münster enjoy the old and the new parts of the stained glass windows and sometimes look with astonishment at the following example in the so-called baker's window:

©miJoergens Wikipedia
The pretzel on the left looks so bright, it must be one of Geiges' new additions. You are mistaken! Geiges had added missing glass pieces and varnished them to make them fit in color to the dirty original windows. When in 1980 the Münster windows were cleaned not only the restoring scientists were fascinated seeing the blaze of color of the Medieval originals as shown on the left hand side.

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