Private Collection, Switzerland
There is little biographical data known of Christian Stöcklin except that he worked primarily in Frankfurt after leaving his native Switzerland. Stöcklin’s œuvre is almost exclusively devoted to church interiors. Many of these works are kept in German museums, including the Gemäldegalerie of Dresden. Stöcklin followed a tradition established in the seventeenth century by Pieter Neefs, and, in spite of the different periods, Stöcklin's works have often mistakenly been attributed to Neefs.
Our composition, A Renaissance Church Interior,is charming in its neat and precise presentation, bathed in a bright and clear light. A marble statue of a female saint in an architectural niche greets the viewer in the left foreground before his eye is led through the space between the tiled floors and the design of the ceiling echoed above. It is conceivable that the statute may represent St. Helena, an empress who ruled over Constantinople with her son, Constantine the Great. St. Helena is always depicted as elegantly dressed, wearing a crown or headdress and holding a scepter, as is the statute of the saint in our painting.
There is a marked influence of the seventeenth century Flemish trends in architectural painting, including the arches, columns and capitals, which are crisply executed and exquisitely ornamented. There are tiny figures walking toward the central nave, one of whom is cloaked in red, brightening this somber and spiritual space with a flash of color.