The KUNSTSAMMLUNGEN ZWICKAU Max-Pechstein-Museum hosts an impressive collection of sacred art from the 14th until the 17th century, whereby most of these artworks have been created in and around Zwickau. The city prospered around 1500 due to the successful silver mining in the Ore Mountains and became an economic and cultural center. Many workshops created altarpieces and holy figures for the churches of Zwickau and its surrounding villages. The best-known workshop at these times was owned by Peter Breuer. He left behind 60 artworks.
In the times of the Reformation such ‘old’ sacred art was removed from the churches. However, compared to other regions the iconoclasm in Zwickau only took place to a limited extent. Holy figures and representations of the Madonna survived in attics and in the so-called ‘Götzenkammer’ of St. Mary’s Cathedral. Thanks to the History and Antiquity Association of Zwickau it was possible to open a ‘cabinet for sacred art from Zwickau’ in St. Mary’s as early as 1858. In this room old woodcuts, among them Madonna as well as holy figures, angel sculptures and epitaphs, were collected and saved from loss.
When these delicate figures were handed over to the museum in 1914 they already showed considerable damage such as smudged, loosened and partly lost color schemes or defective parts. In order to prevent further deterioration the collection of sacred art is being restored and preserved for several years now. This comprehensive project is strongly supported by the Sächsische Landesstelle für Museumswesen (Saxon State Office for Museum Affairs), belonging to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.