Stonecutters in Vilnius before the Mid-Seventeenth Century (Summary)

Mindaugas Paknys (PDF)

Stone sculpture, which was quite popular in the Middle Ages, started spreading in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) only in the sixteenth century. The main reason for this was the absence of stone quarries nearby. Throughout its history, the GDL used imported sandstone and marble.
Tombstones, the earliest works by the stone sculptors in Vilnius, are known from the mid-sixteenth century. The first larger commissions were carried out outside Vilnius, though historical records of the masters arriving in the city appeared at the same time.
Information on the increasing popularity of gravestones and epitaphs is available from the tomb inscriptions recorded by Simon Starowolski in the mid-seventeenth century. More than half of the tombstones and epitaphs are dedicated to persons who died precisely in the second quarter of the seventeenth century.
The paper focuses on stone cutters who worked for the ducal court. Among the earliest-mentioned ones is Jean Philipine Wallon (Jan, Jean Philipin), as early as 1619, known as an outstanding master.
The strongest impulse towards the increasingly widespread use of marble and the growing popularity of Baroque tomb sculpture was the construction of the Chapel of St Casimir between 1624 and 1636. The work was executed by the brothers Costante and Giacomo Tencalla, who were employed as the court masters, and by the masters Rudolf and Antoni Massner (Massonair, Manser, Massener). The latter two remained in Vilnius, where they continued their professional activities. Sporadic records report several other stonecutters working in Vilnius in the first half of the seventeenth century. The paper also discusses tombstones of established and debated authorship, which were made in Vilnius in the period under discussion. It is precisely among the masters whose names are mentioned in the discussion that the authors of surviving, as well as vanished, monuments of Vilnius might be found.
Keywords: stone sculptures, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Jean Philipine Wallon, Costante and Giacomo Tencalla, Rudolf and Antoni Massner