St. John the Evangelist

Upper Rhine, c. 1500
Augustiner-museum, Freiburg im Breisgau

In Narcissus and Goldmund
a favored novel for many years
Hermann Hesse writes of the statue of St. John that Goldmund has carved...

"He saw his friend Narcissus, the guide of his adolescent years,
clad in the robe and role of the beautiful, favorite disciple,
stand listening with lifted face and an expression
of stillness, devotion, and reverence
that was like the budding of a smile..."

his Master says,
"It is a secret how such a work comes into being...
you probably know yourself that such a work cannot be repeated.
It is a secret."

I had come to the Augustinermuseum in Freiburg
hoping to find a carving like this
worthy of the image that Hesse had created in words.

... and it was a St. John

The creator is not known for certain after 500 years
but it may have been Hans Wydyz, a woodcarver from Strasbourg,
known as the best carver of the time and region
who moved to Freiburg around 1497

(ref. Detlief Zinke, Masterpieces from the Middle Ages to the Baroque
at the Augustinermuseum in Freiburg i. Br.

2010 Staedtische Museen Freiburg, Deutscher Kunstverlag GmbH)