This Austrian monastery on the banks of the Danube river and perched on a hill was built by local architect Jacob Prendtauer in the early 18th century. And for its interior, he entrusted the decoration to itinerant Italian artists who went wherever their services were demanded, which were highly valued for their extraordinary virtuosity, typical of the final years of Baroque art.
Melk Monastery Exterior
The monastery's own architecture already has certain airs of unreality, and a lot of theatricality, conceived so that the visitor finds it a monumental surprise while descending through the waters of this navigable river. Because, suddenly in the river plain that hill rises and on it the two tall towers of the façade and the dome stand out, all protected by an elegant esplanade that we see as a kind of extremely elegant wall.
But if from the outside it already has a decorative charm to beautify the landscape, when you visit its interior, that ornamental idea reaches very high levels of expression. These nomadic artists had a vast repertoire and in each of their works they were always renewing it, increasingly convoluting the baroque schemes.
These were humble artists, who were not considered great masters, in fact they could almost reach the status of craftsmen, buthowever, they knew how to organize an entire building to give it an appearance of grandeur, as is the case with the Monastery of Melk.
Interior of Melk Monastery
Its great value was that, always bordering on excess, they calculated the pictorial, sculptural, relief, textile, furniture, etc. ornamentation inside the building, without this overload becoming monotonous and heavy at the view To this end, creating a kind of discourse throughout the different rooms, with moments of greater simplicity and others almost extravagance in their virtuosity, and highlighting those areas to which they wanted to give special prominence.
You have to imagine a place like this and the kind of people who came to it. Generally it would be people from the surroundings, that is, peasants and farmers from the common town, who upon entering would see a world full of wonders. Everywhere you can see ceilings with clouds, and there the angels flutter playing their instruments, playing and gesticulating in an atmosphere typical of the heavenly Paradise. You can see this type of figures, for example, sitting on the pulpit itself or swinging on the spirals of the organ gallery. In short, a waste of imagination, where everything seems to dance, even the walls visually seem to move and there isn't a single straight line.