Brass of the Month

Copyright © 2015 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 02 November 2015

November 2015 -  Benedykt z Koźmina, 1559, Dominican Church, Kraków, Poland

Print

Print this page:



Copyright: Jon Bayliss

What constitutes a monumental brass? The most common answer is that any flat plate of brass engraved for the purpose of memorialisation of the dead qualifies, even where the 'brass' is copper or an alloy of copper and other metal other than brass. Thus, those memorials where the brass component is but a small part of a larger monument have that component listed as a brass. Especially where the component is the inscription or heraldry the size is much less significant than the function. Yet the above definition of a brass as being a flat engraved plate would exclude a number of memorials in France, dating from the late seventeenth-century onwards that consist of convex ovals of brass engraved with commemorative inscriptions. It would also exclude non-monumental brasses produced in the same workshops as monumental ones but these, relatively few in number are generally listed alongside those of a commemorative nature. The Dominican church in Kraków in Poland is known for the brass on the north wall of the sanctuary of Philippo Buonacorsi alias Kallimachus, designed by Veit Stoss and made in the Vischer workshop just before 1500. As is the case with a number of other Vischer brasses, the centre plate is cast in low relief. The inscription below and the panels with Renaissance decoration either side of the cast section are flat engraved brass plates and therefore qualifies as a monumental brass.

    This month's brass can be found in the cloisters of the same church in Kraków. It is part of a larger memorial. The memorial to Benedykt z Koźmina is mural like many others in the cloisters. Some of them, like his, have sculpted profile busts cut in the light-coloured stone of their respective monuments but his is the only one with a brass inscription. It informs us that he was archdeacon of Sandomierz. This was a town north-east of Kraków, formerly of considerable importance, which had given its name to the Sandomierz Voivodeship. Since 1818 it has been a small city. The archdeaconry of Sandomierz was formerly in the diocese of Kraków and other clerical officials who held posts in Sandomierz are commemorated in the churches of Kraków.


    The monument is of a simplified classical design. Koźmina's bust faces left and is truncated at shoulder level. He is bearded and wears a surplice but no tonsure is shown. The bust is in a rectangular panel with a simple moulded border set below a cornice with bead-and-reel decoration and flanked by C-scrolls. The plinth below forms the cornice beneath which is a row of dentils over the inscription panel set in a slightly more complex rectangular moulding, this time flanked by volutes and resting on a plinth with half-round moulding. The monument lacks both apron and pediment which some others nearby also lack, perhaps indicating that it is complete as it is.

    The inscription reads:

BENEDICTVS COSMINEN ARCHIDIACONVS SANDOMI

    RIENSIS HIC SEPULTVS.    PIO LECTORI.

COSMIA ME TELVS GENVIT, MOX FONTE RENATUM

    SALVIFICO VOLVIT NOMEN HABERE BONI

SIC BENEDICTVS ERAM STRICTO, SEV CARMINA PLECTRO

    SEV LAXO ELOQVIO VOX MODVLANDA FVIT

NVNC MEA CANNA SILET CRVDELI FALCE PEREMPTA

    QUA MORS TRISTE FREMENS OBVIA QVAEQVE METIT

AST ANIMVS SVPERAS DVBIO PROCUL ACTVS IN ORAS

    CONCORDI COEPTOS FVNDIT AB ORE SONOS

HIC VBI REGNANTI CELSAQVE IN SEDE TONANTI

    INGEMINAT SANCTOS SANCTA CATERVA MODOS

QVI NVNC LECTOR, ADES GRESSV PERDVCTAE SECVNDO

    DIC MIHI QVOD DEBES, DIC BONA VERBA PRECOR

DIC BONA VERBA, TVIS CVPIAS SI MANIBVS OLIM

    VT BENE DICATVR, DIC, BENEDICTE, VALE

MORTVVS ANNO D MDLIX DIE XXVIII NOVEMB

The inscription is in raised Roman lettering and the whole plate is gilded. It gives his date of death as 28 November 1559.

    As noted above Koźmina's memorial differs from others in the cloisters most importantly in having a brass inscription. Similar monuments are also to be found in other Kraków churches but those known also lack brass components.