Global Cultural heritage -The Museum of Johann George Pinzel

  • Global Cultural heritage -The Museum of Johann George Pinzel
Issue 49, September 2012.

This small museum won’t take more than half an hour of your time, unless you end up being carried away by the captivating exhibitions. It is definitely worth visiting when you’re in Lviv due to several reasons! Firstly, the museum’s unique location –it is located within an architectural monument - the former Church of Poor Clares, designed by Paolo the Roman, which was built in 1605-1607. The frescoes of the cathedral were created in 1670.
Secondly, is the museum’s unique history, as its creation has only become possible due to the enthusiasm and passion of its founder, Boris Voznitskiy, director of the Lviv Art Gallery and long-standing researcher of Pinzel, and has been tracing Pinzel’s works for nearly 50 years. Many of the sculptures were destroyed in Soviet times, some were lost in private collections abroad, and several pieces were literally saved by Voznitskiy himself, at the very last minute before being cut into firewood by local peasants.
The third reason is that the museum’s unique exhibition consists of 32 exhibits representing art on a European and international level. Johann Georg Pinzel was a XVIII century baroque sculpture, often compared to the great Gian Lorenzo Bernini and even to Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti.
Johann Georg Pinzel is shrouded in mystery, as very little is known about his personage who was consigned to oblivion for 200 years. Only in recent decades, the heritage of the Master, who is named the Slavic Michelangelo by contemporary European art critics, has attracted remarkable attention from experts and admirers alike.
His name first surfaced in 1906, as the author of several sculptures at the St. George Cathedral, however a real interest in this artist flourished in 1937, when the first documents (payment receipts for his work) confirming his existence had been found. Based on what has been found so far, the following is known: Pinzel in 1751 married a widow in Buchach and in 1752 and 1759; he wife bore him two sons. In 1761 the sculptor died.
Unfortunately information on Pinzel’s life and art is very scarce and extremely limited so you will not be able to find much of it in the museum. Researchers divide on the issue of nationality, attributing Pinzel Bavarian, Bohemian, Silesian, Italian or Ukrainian origins. Some even believe he could have escaped from Europe to run away from his past and start a new life in Western Ukraine incognito which he successfully accomplished. Under the patronage and financial support of Kanev headman Mykola Pototskiy, Pinzel and his long-term partner, architect Bernard Meretyn, created and decorated many sacral houses in Western Ukraine. There are very few of Pinzel’s masterpieces that have been found and identified so far, and the majority of them are included in the collection in the Lviv Sacral Baroque Sculpture Museum.
It is known that at the end of the 1750s, Pinzel created the sculptural ensemble in the St. George Cathedral in Lviv; worked in Lviv’s St. Martin Church; as well as in Monastyrys'ka in Ternopil region. The ensemble of stone carvings for the Buchach City Hall and Church altar in Horodenka, the great altar in the village of Hodovytsi and the altar in the Parochial Church in the town of Monastyryska are just some of the Master’s great works of art which were during the 1750s.
Many art connoisseurs state with that without a doubt, Pinzel had a unique technique and an original perspective on baroque plastic arts, especially visible in his wooden artworks. Pinzel seemed to have established his own baroque school with over 40 artists known as his students and the Lviv museum also exhibits a small selection of works from Pinzel’s followers.
Some of Pinzel’s works are also currently being exhibited in Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Munich, Germany), along with a series of bozzettis (models) of Pinzel’s sculptures which were found in Bavaria.
In the fall of 2011, Musée du Louvre (Paris, France) exhibited about twenty of Pinzel’s sculptures in the Chapel were Louis XIV has taken his royal oath and it was the first ever exhibition of a Ukrainian artist in Louvre.


The museum is open every day, except Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m
Location: 2 Mytna Sq., Lviv, Tel. (032) 275-69-66

The entrance fee is 5 UAH. To take photos: 20 UAH and you can also purchase a beautiful album of Pinzel’s works for 170 UAH ($35).

P.S. From November 22, 2012 to February 02, 2013, the Louvre Museum in Paris proposes a new exhibition on Johann Georg Pinsel's sculpture work in the Salle de la Chapelle.