Gottfried Bernhard Göz (1708-1788) was born in the Cistercian monastery of Welehrad in Mähren, where his father was a blacksmith. In Magyarhradis, Czech Republic, he completed all the six grammar school grades at the Jesuits, which was a special thing, not many 18th century artists received such a high level education. In 1724, he became a student of the mural- and oil picture painter Franz G. Ignaz Eckstein, and then arrived in Augsburg around 1729-30, where he joined the circle of the director of the Catholic Academy of Arts, Johann Georg Bergmüller. He learnt the technique of copper engraving beside Bergmüller, a painter of Czech origin, and became acquainted with the French (Jean-Antoine Watteau grotesque sheets) and Dutch (Hendrick Goltzius) traditions of reproduced graphics.
Later, he joined Johann Evangelist Holzer and, from 1733, made plans for Joseph Sebastian and Johann Baptist Klauber, with whom he founded a joint engraving publishing business around 1737-38. Between 1737 and 1742, a series of engravings and ecclesiastical calendar, called the Annus dierum Sanctorum, was published, which contained for each day of the year at least one scene from the life of the saint celebrated that day. For the first edition, which also included King St. Stephen's Crown Offer, St. Ladislaus's Chariot Miracle, and St. Elizabeth, who hosted the poor, Gottfried Berhard Göz devised and delineated the plans that the Klauber brothers engraved in copper, and then made the prints. Göz, who is considered an iconographic innovator of baroque depictions of saints, gave a unique, special depiction of individual life scenes and miracles in the case of Hungarian saints as well.
The special feature of the engraving depicting St. Stephen’s crown offer is that a conventional image of the Holy Right also appears among horns of plenty. True, the depiction was so absurd that the picture shows a floating, open left (!) hand. In connection with the depiction of St. Ladislaus, it is interesting that Göz did not choose a scene from the life of the knight king, but depicted the theme of the chariot miracle that took place after Ladislaus's death. According to the legend, when the men of the ruler, whose dead body was laid out on a chariot, tried to get to Várad (Oradea) and had a rest during the way, the chariot moved on its own towards the destination. In the engraving of Augsburg artists, two cherubs are pulling St. Ladislaus's bier, placed on a chariot and surrounded by a torch escort, towards the Cathedral of Nagyvárad. In the case of the depiction of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (nee Árpád-házi), Göz did not highlight a scene chosen from her known miracles, but simply the social sensitivity of the Hungarian queen, who is hosting the poor at a table in the courtyard of the palace, while her lady-in-waiting is giving alms to beggars.
The Klauber brothers later renewed the series of engravings of the Annus dierum Sanctorum and designed, engraved and printed the images themselves. Instead of landscape format engravings, portrait format images were created and the iconography of the depicted saints was also renewed. In their engraving depicting St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (nee Árpádházi), the queen is showed in an interesting way while playing cards and supporting a lame beggar from her win. According to the inscription on the engraving, St. Elizabeth distributed the money she won at card games to the poor, in respect of the Virgin Mary. But our selection also shows how St. Stephen's land offering was renewed. In their engraving, the first Hungarian king and his wife Gisela are lifting a large map with the inscription “HUNGARIA” towards the Virgin Mary appearing in a cloud.
Besides the Klauber brothers, Göz also made drawings for several other Augsburg copper engravers, such as Johann Andreas Pfeffel (1674-1748), leaving us a special depiction of St. Gerald, showing the saint in a Carmelite attire, while a wolf and a deer are giving him the bishop's insignias. But as you can see in our virtual exhibition, Pfeffel also independently processed the figures of St. Gerald, St. Stephen and St. Elizabeth of Thuringia. The Augsburg master showed the first Hungarian king and the holy bishop side by side, as friends, under the Hungarian coat of arm, connected by the veneration of the Virgin Mary. The scenes depicted in the engraving are in deep harmony with the legends of St. Gerald. The portrait of the Hungarian queen appears in a rich Rococo frame depicting St. Elizabeth with a bread basket in front of her, referring to her miracle of roses, as she is giving money to a pauper who is begging alms.
After Göz received imperial privilege for ten years in 1742 for his own publishing house, established to produce printed graphics, he began an independent business. In 1744, Emperor Charles VII awarded him the title of imperial court painter and engraver for a portrait engraving. In the field of printed graphics, Dutch and French influences can be clearly seen in his work in the 1730s, but from the 1740s onwards, he increasingly developed his own independent treasure of forms and style. Gottfried Bernhard Göz was a very versatile artist. His repertory ranged from small graphic sheets to large mezzotint portraits and thesis sheets to altarpieces and murals.
In addition to working with many copper engravers as a designer, draftsman or engraver, the Czech-born Augsburg artist was in many cases the inventor, engraver and publisher of the prints himself. Just like in the case of the three pictures of St. Joseph Calasanz made on the occasion of his beatification and canonization, which virtuously condense the iconographic motifs and attributes of the Piarist order founder, such as the rejected pontifical insignias or the intact tongue and heart relics of the saint, into a bustling yet orderly composition.
Leader of the Piarist Museum
Translated by Zita Aknai
- Isphording, Eduard: Gottfried Berhard Göz. 1708-1774.Ölgemälde und Zeichnungen. Textband, Anton H. Konrad, Weissenhorn, 1982
- Isphording, Eduard: Göz, Gottfried Bernhard in Saur Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, Band 57, K. G. Saur, München-Leipzig, 2008
- Stoll, Peter: The Imperial City of Augsburg and the Printed Image int he 17th and 18th Centuries, OPUS Augsburg, 2016 in https://opus.bibliothek.uni-augsburg.de/opus4/frontdoor/deliver/index/docId/3705/file/Stoll_empire_of_prints.pdf
- Szilárdfy Zoltán: Augsburgi rézmetszők magyar vonatkozású szentképei in Beke Margit (szerk.): Miscellanea Strigoniensis II., Budapest, 2004, 50-67.
- Wildmoser, Rudolf: Gottfried Bernhard Göz (1708-1774) als ausführender Kupferstecher. Untersuchungen und Katalog der Werke in Jahrbuch des Vereins für Augsburger Bistumgeschichte e. V. 18. Jahrgang, MCMLXXXIV, Augsburg, 1984