Master Majestatis (Latin: Magister Majestatis Domini, The Master of Christ in Majesty, usually shortened to Master Majestatis or simply Majestatis and sometimes referred to as the Tryde Master, fl. second half of the 12th century) was a Romanesque stone sculptor and the creator of several richly decorated baptismal fonts mainly in Scania and on Gotland (present-day Sweden).
Life and works
The name Magister Majestatis Domini is a name assigned to the anonymous master in the 20th century by art historian Johnny Roosval. The name derives from a favourite motif of the sculptor, Christ in Majesty sitting on a rainbow and surrounded by a mandorla and angels. Almost nothing is known of his life or background, but it has been speculated that he was from or received his training in Burgundy or Alsace. He worked first in Scania, probably for local nobility and possibly even the (at the time Danish) royal family. Later in his life he seems to have moved to Gotland and continued working as a sculptor there. It is possible that the name more rightly should designate an atelier than a single artist.
The chef d'oeuvre of Majestatis is the baptismal font of the church of Tryde, Scania, Sweden. The carving probably depicts, apart from a scene with Christ in Majesty, the legend of St. Stanislaw. It is probable that the motive has some connection to, and the font may even have been commissioned by, the then reigning queen of Denmark (as Scania was then a part of Denmark), queen Sophia, spouse of Valdemar I of Denmark. Sophia had Polish ancestors and not least for that reason the creation of the font has been connected with the royal family. Another theory is that the carvings on the font depict the legend of Saint Fridolin. The font from Tryde was displayed at the International Exposition of 1867 in Paris, and awarded a bronze medal.
Majestatis made an additional four or possibly five baptismal fonts for churches in Scania; these were probably all made for local noblemen as they display a high degree of refinement. This group of fonts include the fonts in Löderup, Östra Hoby, Valleberga and Simris churches, and possibly Östra Nöbbelöv. They are all located in the south-eastern part of the province.
The baptismal fonts and other stone sculpture identified to be by Majestatis on Gotland island are of a later date than those in Scania. Perhaps the best of the sculptor's works on Gotland is the northern portal of Hablingbo church. Other works include baptismal fonts in Lokrume, Vall, Sproge, Stenkyrka, Väskinde and Gerum churches, as well as a few others, for example in Denmark and Hälsingland, Sweden.
Stylistically, Majestatis is recognisable through his elongated figures with well-kept, often braided hair, pear-shaped faces and large, rather pointed, oval eyes. The sculptor is known for the profusely adorned, but not overdecorated, baptismal fonts.
- "Majestatis" (in Swedish). Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
- Svanberg, Jan (1995). Signums svenska konsthistoria. Den romanska konsten. (in Swedish). Lund: Signum förlag. pp. 166–180; 189–192. ISBN 91-87896-23-0.
- "Tryde Church". Index of Christian Art. Princeton University. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
- Lagerlöf, Erland; Svahnström, Gunnar (1973). Gotlands kyrkor (in Swedish). Uddevalla: Rabén & Sjögren. p. 204. ISBN 9129410355.
- "Gotländska stenmästare, skulptur, Gotland" (in Swedish). guteinfo.com. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
- Media related to Majestatis at Wikimedia Commons