Br. Cosmas Wolf, O.S.B.
r. Cosmas Wolf, O.S.B., was a Benedictine lay-brother of Saint Vincent Archabbey active in the mid-nineteenth century. Studying at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich, Br. Cosmas was trained as a master sculptor, designer, and draftsman. During this time, monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey operated the Altar Building Stock Company of Covington, Kentucky, which was under artistic direction of Br. Cosmas Wolf, O.S.B. Among the artists of Br. Cosmas's Company was the famous American-impressionist painter and sculptor, Frank Duveneck.
The Covington Altar Building Stock Company was a prolific institution that fulfilled the needs of Catholic German-Americans for the decoration of their new churches in North America during the second half of the nineteenth century. They designed and created everything from altars and statues, to croziers and sacred vessels. With the support of Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. (founder of Saint Vincent and Benedictine monasticism in North America), the individual artists, artisans, and craftsmen of Br. Cosmas's group were virtually unparalleled in the American arts scene, and came to define liturgical art of the nineteenth century. The Covington-based church decorators were grounded in the tradition of German Gothic art. It served them well, since a Gothic Revival movement dominated architecture and design in the United States which began in the 1830s and lingered into the 1870s. Just as in Europe a few decades earlier, the American Gothic Revival attempted to recreate the idealized Middle Ages.
This exhibition featuring 45 architectural drawings, as well as carvings completed by Br. Cosmas Wolf and his studio. Viewers will experience the artworks in an unique way; several sculptures will be juxtaposed with their preliminary sketches and designs. Of particular note, a set of statues will rejoin their mates (for the first time in 55 years) to recreate Br. Cosmas Wolf's last artistic triumph: the magnificent Adoration of the Magi altarpiece from Saint Vincent's Old Choir Chapel. Viewers will also see an early exterior proposal for the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica—a design that would be used to form the basis for the current Archabbey Basilica Church. This Exhibition was recently featured on the New Liturgical Movement. Click for Story. To receive a catalog, please call 724-805-2107.
Thanks to our sponsors and everyone for supporting the Dr. McNamra's lecture on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Couldn't make the lecture? No problem! It is on Saint Vincent College's YouTube Channel and can be watched below.
Shadow, Image and Reality:
Dr. McNamara joined us on February 18 for an examination of truth and beauty in the theology of church art and architecture. Following the lecture, a reception was held in The Saint Vincent Gallery, where "Br. Cosmas Wolf, O.S.B.: Monk, Architect, Sculptor, Designer" is being exhibition.
Denis R. McNamara, Ph.D., is an architectural historian specializing in the theology of liturgical art and architecture, classicism, and sacramental aesthetics. He is the assistant director at the Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, and serves as a liturgical design consultant. He is the author of several books, including Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy (2009), and How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture (2011), as well as multiple articles and reviews.