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Memorial to Maria Magdalena Langhans, copy of the gravestone in the parish church of Hindelbank near Berne

Key data

Valentin Sonnenschein after Johann August Nahl, after 1775


height 37.7 cm, width 25 cm, depth 9 cm

Inv. 1904.619.


In 1751 on the day before Easter, nine months after her marriage, Maria Magdalena Langhans, the 28 year old wife of the parish priest of Hindelbank, died giving birth to a still born child. The tragic death of this young woman, who was famed for her beauty, was witnessed by the Prussian court sculptor, Johann August Nahl, who was a guest in the priest's house. In the same year Nahl gave his experience artistic expression in a famous monument in which he interpreted the promise of Resurrection by showing the gravestone breaking open. The inscription was provided by Albrecht von Haller. Twenty to 30 years later miniature copies of the sandstone monument were produced in several versions: they were made of wax, terracotta or biscuit ware by factories in Nyon and Niederweiler. These replicas, which were distributed as far afield as England, not only served as souvenirs for travellers, but were also used for the consolation of the bereaved.

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