An Historic Large Press for a Seal Matrix, bearing the Arms of the Archbishopric of Salzburg quartered with the figure of St. Rudbertus, c. 1760

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Item ref: 5060

  • Austria, Salzburg
  • Iron, copper alloy (brass), oak
  • 59.5 cm x 56 cm

Provenance:

Archepiscopal Chancery, from circa 1755-60; subsequently removed to Munich, most probably circa 1809
The Munich City Museum, 1920’s
The Reinhold Kirsch Collection, Munich, 1930-2015
Private collection, U.S.A. from 2016

The massive proportions of this press correspond with the weight of its importance in asserting the authority of the Salzburg Chancery of the Princely Archbishopric.

The highly elaborate pierced and engraved rococo frame for the quartering of arms over the front of the press is a distinct characteristic of Gizl’s works. Comparison between this and Gizl’s corresponding work on his theodolite, dated 1769, together with the treatment of his other scientific instruments, makes the case for this press being produced circa 1760. The press was likely commissioned at this date by Sigismund III, Christoph Graf von Schrattenbach, as reigning Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg (r. 1753-71).

The identical arms of the Fürsterzbistum Salzburg quartered with the image of St. Rudbertus (Rupert) are also present on Salzburg gold and silver coinage of the period. St. Rupert was the first Bishop of Salzburg, who founded the Abbey of St. Peter at the outset of the 8th century.

Among the record of titles relating to his employment at the Salzburg court, Martin Gizl (also Georg Martin Gizl) is referred to as ‘pixenmaister’, meaning gunmaker. He is additionally referred to as ‘mechanikus’, affirming his versatility in the manufacturing of technical instruments.

In 1809 the territories of the former Bishopric of Salzburg (briefly an Electorate since 1803) were transferred to the Kingdom of Bavaria. The present seal press was very likely included among the plunder removed by Bavarian troops from the Hellbrunn Palace, the princely residence, and from the Chancery, to be ultimately dispersed via the European and American art markets.

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