The enigmatic art of the Asam Brothers

Hidden in plain sight within Sendlingerstraße, the heart of Munch’s bustling shopping district is the beautifully crafted Church of St John Nepomuk, you may find the best example of the art of the Asam Brothers. The church that almost seems out of place amongst the masses of shops, is a late-baroque work fashioned by 2 brothers. The church was a place that brought me closer to the art and culture in the city of Munich.

Biographical Background

Cosmas Damian and Egid Quirin Asam were born into an artistic household.

Their father was Hans Georg Asam, a somewhat familiar painter of churches frescoes. Cosmas Damian was a painter, his brother Egid Quirin a sculptor (born in 1686 and 1692).

The brothers traveled to Rome to further assimilate the art there. Later in 1713, Cosmas received the 1st price of the Academia di San Luca in the presence of the Pope.

Following, the brothers returned to Bavaria and their work was in high demand, receiving many commissions. The brother’s specialties went hand in hand and they worked on nearly all their projects together.

In 1727, the brothers moved to Munich after working on the Church of the Holy Spirit.

They then went on to buy land on Maria-Einsiedel-Straße to build a fresco- covered building with a castle garden and a small Baroque Chapel built on the grounds. It is currently a traditional restaurant named “Asam-Schlössl”.

Later, they would go on and build their most coveted piece, the Church of St John Nepomuk, better known today as the Asam Church.

Their most appreciated Asam Church

Built between the years 1723-1746 as a private chapel for the brothers, its purpose was to not only for the glory of God but for their own salvation.

In contrast to their earlier contracted work, the brothers could now build to their own heart’s content. Egid could even see the altar from a window in his own apartment, conveniently located neighbor to the church.

The church was built as a Beichtkirche (confession church) for the youth. Being evident in the seven confessional stands, the church with its 22 meters is extremely high, considering its wideness of only 8 meters.

The internal design is measured by three sections, each increasing in brightness from ground level up. The lower section, containing pews reserved for the church’s visitors, is dark, symbolizing the suffering in the world.

Located above is the middle section which is mostly blue and white, for the Emperor. Finally, the upper section, the illuminated ceiling with the fresco “Life of Saint Nepomuk” is for God and eternity. The altar has 4 columns referencing those over the St Peters grave in Rome, where the brothers studied and honed their skills. Cosmas died before the completion of the church in 1746. As a result of residence opposition to the privacy of the Church, it was later opened to the public.

The church was bombed in the Second World War in 1944, damaging the choir area. The restoration did not start until 1975. It took 8 years to complete and they only finished its base of what it possibly looked like.

Visiting the Asam Church

The Asam Church is one of the best things to do in Munich – it is a must-see for anybody visiting the city. I feel you learn more about the wonders of Munich if you hire a professional tour guide. So make sure to check out city tour guides, if you are planning a visit.

Location:

Sendlinger Str. 32, 80331 Munich

Opening hours

09:00 – 1730

If you would like to learn about another Church in Munich (The Frauenkirche), why not read my other blog? The Devil’s Footprint in the Frauenkirche