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Statuette - St John Nepomuk

St John Nepomuk

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Mainz (Rheinland-Pfalz) (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1745-75 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hencke, Peter (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with funds from the bequest of Capt. H. B. Murray

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 3, case CA1

This statuette depicts the martyred Bohemian St John Nepomuk, who was canonised in 1729.
St John Nepomuk had been depicted in numerous paintings and sculptures before he was officially canonised, including the bronze statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague after a model by Matthias Rauchmiller (1645-1686) of 1683. This statue is similar in pose to the present ivory, and indeed served as a prototype for other sculpted representations of the saint, such as the lifesize wood figure by the Mainz sculptor Burkard Zamels (c.1690-1757) in the Museum collection, inv. no. A.14-1957. It is difficult to date the present piece precisely, and so a broad date span is given here. Its style of carving, as well as the initials on the back, means that it is certainly an autograph work by Hencke.

Physical description

Ivory statuette of St. John Nepomuk. He is represented in an ecstatic pose, trampling underfoot Treachery, who writhes in agony, his right hand clasping snakes. The saint, clothed in a cassock with flying panels, rochet, stole, fur mantle and a biretta, looks up towards his left, his left hand across his breast, his right hand falling to the right.

Place of Origin

Mainz (Rheinland-Pfalz) (made)


ca. 1745-75 (made)


Hencke, Peter (maker)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 24.5 cm ivory alone

Object history note

Bought for £250 (Murray bequest) from Mr. A. Spero, London in 1958.

Descriptive line

Statuette, ivory, Saint John Nepomuk, by Peter Heinrich Hencke, Germany (Mainz), ca. 1745-75

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Theuerkauff, Christian, ed. Elfenbein, Sammlung Reiner Winkler, Vol I, 1984, pp. 58-9
Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 71
Burton, Anthony, Precious an illustrated guide to the exhibition held at the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, 5 April.-24 June 2001, Sheffield, Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust, 2001

Labels and date

German (Mainz); middle of the 18th century
Signed PH for Peter Hencke (d. 1777)
Purchased under the bequest of Captain H. B. Murray
[1993 - 2011]




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