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Abstract

The paper analyses the baroque ceiling paintings of the Pauline pilgrimage church in Šaštín (Slovakia), signed in 1757 by Jean-Joseph Chamant, scene designer and theatre architect at the Vienna court and protégé of Emperor Franz I Stefan of Lorraine. In 1736 Franz Stefan purchased manors in the neighbourhood, thus became patron of the pilgrimage church in Šaštín, built in 1736–62. The Emperor and Queen Maria Theresa frequently visited the pilgrimage shrine while sojourning in their chateau in Holiè and contributed with significant donations to the construction of the church, and then to the decoration of the church interior: the high altar was commissioned by the Queen in 1762 and designed by the court architect Nikolaus Pacassi. According to archival sources Chamant's fee was paid by the Paulines, consequently the frescos can not be qualified as explicit court commission. Chamant was the primary contractor of the work, yet, being a scene designer, his contribution to the fresco cycle must have been limited to the painted architecture, including a trompe-l'oeil dome over the nave. The figurative compositions of the fresco cycle were carried out presumably by Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer, professor of the Vienna Art Academy, who received several court commissions in the 1750s. The fresco cycle consists of allegorical scenes referring to Christ's redeeming death, in correlation with the miraculous statue, a Pietà, placed on the high altar.

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Underwater excavations of a submerged site in the bay of Abuqir have yielded small finds that indicate workshop activity: short pieces of gold wire, gold splinters, an undrilled bead, copper ingots and coloured raw glass for the production of beads and cameos. In addition, a few pieces of jewellery and accessories were probably made at the site, for instance a glass cameo consisting of the same material as some pieces of raw glass and a finger ring with a bezel in the shape of an oil lamp. For various reasons, the excavated site may have belonged to the pilgrimage shrine of SS Cyrus and John at Menouthis, and oil lamps played an important part at liturgies and healings that were conducted at the shrine. An older account in the 9th-century Coptic miracles of St. Menas refers to a gold workshop of the Holy Apa Apakyri and, therefore, probably to the gold workshop attached to the shrine. The site was active until the early 8th century.

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