Brother Cosmas Wolf, O.S.B., was a Benedictine lay-brother of Saint Vincent Archabbey active in the mid-nineteenth century. Studying at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich, Brother Cosmas was trained as a master sculptor, designer, and draftsman. During this time, monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey operated the Altar Building Stock Company of Covington, Kentucky, which was under artistic direction of Brother Cosmas Wolf, O.S.B. Among the artists of Brother Cosmas’ Company was the famous American-impressionist painter and sculptor, Frank Duveneck.
The Covington Altar Building Stock Company was a prolific institution that fulfilled the needs of Catholic German-Americans for the decoration of their new churches in North America during the second half of the nineteenth century. They designed and created everything from altars and statues, to croziers and sacred vessels. With the support of Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. (founder of Saint Vincent and Benedictine monasticism in North America), the individual artists, artisans, and craftsmen of Brother Cosmas’s group were virtually unparalleled in the American arts scene, and came to define liturgical art of the nineteenth century. The Covington-based church decorators were grounded in the tradition of German Gothic art. It served them well, since a Gothic Revival movement dominated architecture and design in the United States which began in the 1830s and lingered into the 1870s. Just as in Europe a few decades earlier, the American Gothic Revival attempted to recreate the idealized Middle Ages.
This exhibition featuring 45 architectural drawings, as well as carvings completed by Brother Cosmas Wolf and his studio. Viewers will experience the artworks in an unique way; several sculptures will be juxtaposed with their preliminary sketches and designs. Of particular note, a set of statues will rejoin their mates (for the first time in 55 years) to recreate Brother Cosmas Wolf’s last artistic triumph: the magnificent Adoration of the Magi altarpiece from Saint Vincent’s Old Choir Chapel. Viewers will also see an early exterior proposal for the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica—a design that would be used to form the basis for the current Archabbey Basilica Church. This Exhibition was recently featured on the New Liturgical Movement. To receive a catalog, please call 724-805-2107.