Georg Petel, attr.

Weilheim 1601/2 - 1634 Augsburg
Christ Crucified
Boxwood, 29.8 x 22.4 cm

German Vasari

Teutsche Academie

Art theory

Joachim von Sandrart, who was born in 1608 in Frankfurt and died in 1688 in Nuremberg, was a painter and copperplate engraver. However, he became famous primarily as the author of the Teutsche Academie der Edlen Bau-, Bild- und Mahlerey-Künste, the first art-historical publication of its kind in German. It appeared in a series of volumes between 1675 and 1679. Sandrart was assisted by his nephew, Jacob von Sandrart, and the poet Sigmund von Birken. The sculptor Georg Petel, whose mobility and death at an early age are typical of the fate of many artists of the time, receives particularly praise in the Teutsche Academie.


Upper Bavaria

Petel’s birthplace

Georg Petel travelled a long way in his short life. Born in 1601/02 in Weilheim/Upper Bavaria, he was the son of the cabinet maker Clement Petel. The young Georg lost his parents at an early age. The local woodcarver Bartholomäus Steinle, a representative of the Weilheim School of Sculpture, became his guardian and it was in his workshop that Georg Petel’s skills were furthered. The extremely talented apprentice trained as an ivory carver under Christoph Angermair in Munich. At the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War Georg Petel left the royal Bavarian city for Antwerp where he was introduced to Peter Paul Rubens. He continued his journey to Rome and Genoa via Paris. It was not until 1624 that Petel returned to Germany as a famous and highly sought-after artist where he settled in the Free Imperial City of Augsburg. An exemplary European career that was cut short through his early death during the turmoil of war in 1634.

The cross

Signs of life

Seven sacraments

The cross is the most important symbol in Christianity and its identifying sign. The sign of the cross is likewise the gesture of blessing. As a Weapon of Christ (Crucifixion) the cross is a symbol of the triumph of life over death. Through its central importance, the depiction of Christ Crucified in Christian art is the most important pictorial theme. It is interesting to note that the cross symbol was also used prior to the life of Christ. The Ancient Egyptian ‘ankh’ is a symbol of life in the world beyond. God had the tav (T), the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, drawn on the foreheads of all those ‘faithful to god’ by angels as a sign of protection. In early Christianity is was worshipped as a holy sign as its shape is reminiscent of the cross on which Christ died. The tav was, incidentally, Saint Francis of Assisi’s favourite letter.