Art Nouveau Vestments from Stift Klosterneuberg

We recently introduced the category of 'Other Modern' here at LAJ and gave a general overview of what is meant by it. One of the items we touched on in brief was an example of a Jugenstil cope and we wished to share more with our readers about this remarkable set of vestments.

But first, by way of introduction, Jugendstil is an artistic school that arose in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century; it literally means 'youth style' but ultimately what we are talking about here is better and more broadly known as 'Art Nouveau.'  The name Jugendstil was itself derived from a Munich based magazine, Die Jugend, which feature Art Nouveau designs. As a brief bit of art history, Art Nouveau had two distinct phases. The first, pre-1900, was primarily characterized by its floriated designs and included many characteristics of Japanese art; the second phase, which took place in the first decade of the 20th century, grew out to the work of Henry van de Velde.

As to the Judgenstil vestments of Stift Klosteneuberg, Austria, they are a set of Marian themed vestments which the monastery commissioned from the Imperial and Royal School of Arts (k.k. vereinigten Akademie der bildenden K√ľnste) in Vienna in 1910.  The vestments were ultimately designed by Anton Hofler, a pupil of Koloman Moser.  They were displayed at the 1912 Eucharistic Congress in Vienna -- apparently, but not surprisingly, causing something of a stir.

The complete set, which is a pontifical set, was comprised of a chasuble, cope, four dalmatics and all the other related pieces associated with the pontifical liturgy of the usus antiquior.

Cope, chasuble and a dalmatic.
(Photo credit: Beyond Arts Guides)
The chasuble design includes corn, grape and vine symbolism which are, of course, associated with the Eucharistic Sacrifice:

(Photo credit:Beyond Arts Guides)
However it is the cope which his the real star of this particular show, being the only vestment which is decorated with figurative designs in the form of angels.

(Photo credit:Beyond Arts Guides)

Here are a few further details from this remarkable set of vestments by way of Fr. James Bradley.


Ultimately what we see in these vestments is an example of a kind of modernity that yet remains rooted to the tradition.  It is a reminder that the battle is not really between "modernity" and "tradition" but rather "rupture" versus "continuity."
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