SIR,-1 was surprised with the Chauvinist tone of Mr. Josef Hanck's letter concerning the sculptor who made the famous Cracow altar. He is known in Germany as Veit Stoss and in Poland as Wit Stwosz. He used himself both names and even in several different spellings. On the Cracow tomb stone of King Casimir Jagellon of Poland, which he sculpted, his iignature reads clearly: EIT STVOS 1492.
his surname was frequent in Polish It is generally assumed that he was a German by origin and horn in or around Nuremberg, but even this is not absolutely certain and
lands since the 13th century. He came around 1475 from Nuremberg to Cracow, became in 1477 a citizen of Cracow and lived there more than 20 years till 1496.
He himself returned to Nuremberg, but was not happy there. He was treated very roughly by the Nuremberg authorities, who inflicted upon him the penalty of branding by a hangman because of bankruptcy. Contemporary Polish sources call him "a singularly discreet, laborious and nice man", contemporary Nuremberg sources "an unruly and ignominious citizen". "a noisy man gone astray''.
His most splendid and beautiful works have been made in Poland; his Nuremberg works, even if great, are second rate in comparison with them. He left a wonderful. sculpted record of the Polish life of his time, beginning with a marvellous portrait of a Polish king and ending with the hundreds of human figures of ordinary people. and the landscape, architecture, and animal and plant life, on the Cracow altar.
He was certainly fond of Poland. His art shows the influence of German and Dutch schools, but at the same time perpetuates Polish artistica! traditions.
The nationalist attitude towards works and men of art, as represented by the letter of Mr. Hanck, can lead to very dangerous extremes. During the last war, the Cracow altar was confiscated by the Neel authorities and brought to Western Germany on the ground that this work of German art belongs to Germany and not to Poland. (It suffered on the way some damage and was exposed to the risk of total destruction). But Stwosz made it in Poland and for Poland and was paid the handsome sum of 2,808 florins for it.
Jedrzej Giertycls 16 Belmont Road, London, N.15.
SIR' To my shame I used to inveigh against the works of Mr. Graham Green: even breaking into print in the " Sunday Times" and the Catholic Press.
Now. however, further experience has enlightened me as to the bitter struggle for moral survival in the lives of many fundamentally good Catholic souls. They are what might be called " Graham Greene Catholics." To them his manifestation of the merciful love of God must he of the utmost consolation and encouragement. Let the others who are scandalised look to themselves.
317 Endsleigh Court, W.C.I.
S. Walburga's Oil
SIR. The Benedictines at
Minster Abbey, near Ramsgate, would, I am sure, send your correspondent St. Walburga's Oil, together with an interesting short "life" of the saint and printed Novena prayers.