JOHANN SCHNEGG, an outstanding Tyrolese sculptor.
He worked for the margrave of Bayreuth (Bavaria) and for the king of Prussia, Frederick II the Great
(b. in Ried bei Imsterberg in 1724 - d. in Artzl im Pitztal in 1784 )
The area of northern Tyrol were he was born, situated between Innsbruck and the Bavarian (German), Swiss and Italian borders, has for centuries produced cabinet makers and sculptors carving essentially wood, ivoiry, stucco and sometimes stone too. Even nowadays some Schneggs still living there have artistic occupations.


Johann Schnegg (sometimes written Schneck, or Schneeg) was born near Imst in 1724. He learnt his handicraft in workshops in the neighbourhood. Then he spent about one year in Innsbruck in 1747 and went to Bayreuth in 1748 where he worked for J.G. Ziegler, in charge of the Sculpture Cabinet of the Margrave of Bayreuth (a brother-in-law of the Prussian king Frederick II). There Johann Schnegg married the daughter of his employer and later took over the workshop of his father-in-law after his death in 1749.

For the Hermitage in Bayreuth he produced several monumental sculptures : Socrates, two groups representing the Rapt of the Sabines, River Gods for a pool in the gardens. His original statue of Flora (Goddess of flowers) achieved in 1755, is now in the Orangerie of the New Castle in Bayreuth, a copy of it having been raised in the garden. He achieved also several statues for the Wallfahrtkirche of Gössweinstein (which became a basilica in 1948), a pilgrim place not very far from Bayreuth.
In 1756 he became the director for sculpture teaching at the Art Academy of Bayreuth recently created by the Margravine Wilhelmine of Prussia.

Besides he produced fine furniture and stucco décors for the Court as well.

Rapt of the Sabines

In 1761 he left Bayreuth to Postdam, where King Frederick II invited gifted young sculptors to participate in the ornamentation of his Sanssouci Palace, where there are about four thousands statues. This magnificent Palace and its extensive gardens became in 1990 a World Heritage Site under the protection of UNESCO.

All these sculptors, who needed to be helped by workmen for heavy statues, worked after the sketches of the architect who shared the work to be done between their workshops. The accounts of that time usually don't give sufficient information to enable an accurate individualization for each sculpture but they indicate with certainty the different workshops that have performed a definite set of statues.

Marmor Hall or Caves Hall

At Sanssouci, from 1761 to 1769, Johann Schnegg achieved a marble group of children for a fountain in the Marble Hall in this palace. He also worked for several monumental sets : sandstone statues, 3.2 m high and about 2 metric tons heavy each, staying on the attica around the New Palace roof, marble children groups on the balustrade of the terrace and vases along the facade of the Pictures Gallery.

Children group on a balustrade

In 1769, after his wife's death, feeling no more like to achieve huge statues, Johann Schnegg wished to go back to his native land but was not authorized to do. He then ran away with his savings hidden in holes bored in wooden models he brought with him.
Back in Tyrol he lived quietly until he died in 1784.There, he earned his living with smaller works, carving statues of wood, ivory or stucco. Many churches in Tyrol belong some of them as the Parish
Church St Peter and Paul in Götzens, near Innsbruck. He also carved and painted wooden Christmas cribs and thus renewed this Tyrolese folk art becoming a model for other artists.

Johann Schnegg is one of the most outstanding sculptors of baroque style from the Tyrolese Oberinntal.
In particular, he carved for the bishop of Brixen an extraordinarily fine little statue made of ivory and ebony representing St Michael vanquishing Satan. This masterpiece belonging to the Habsbourg Kunstkammer Collections is kept at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Borders have changed many times during the last centuries in Middle Europa and thus, nowadays, Johann Schnegg's works can be found in Austria, Germany and Italy.


Catalogue, Gifts, G. Schnegg's Sculpture, G. Schnegg's Painting ,
Exhibitions, Lucien Schnegg, The Bande ŕ Schnegg, Museums, Related Sites, Small ads

More :
Johann Schnegg – Wikipedia
eglise-saint-pierre-saint.jpg (2000×1500) (
Liste der denkmalgeschützten Objekte in Götzens – Wikipedia




Document created by Marine Schenegg
Last revision : 2023