Murovec AHAS 6angl

Ceiling decoration in St. Roch's church above Šmarje pri Jelšah
In 1645 the inhabitants of Šmarje pri Jelšah (St. Marein) were threatened by Black Death, therefore they built a church on the hill rising over the place which they consecrated to St. Roch, one of the patron saints against plague. The interior of the church with its Baroque decoration is one of the most outstanding art monuments in the Slovenian part of Styria. The combination of coloured stucco work and frescoes employed for its embellishment represents a rather unusual kind of decoration in our country, the closest parallels to which can be found in southern Germany.
The essential message of the ceiling paintings taken as a whole is the triumph of religion and the Church and the victory of good over evil, which can also be understood from individual scenes taken separately (e.g. St. Michael vanquishing the devil). Besides St. Roch and the Holy Virgin several other patron saints against plague, such as Sts. Sebastian, Rosalia, Anthony of Padua and also Francis Xavier and John Nepomuk, are given prominence in the frescoes. Through their intercession and thanks to the steadfast faith, the locals of Šmarje were saved from plague, so the subject-matter of the paintings is also related to the very reason that gave rise to the building of the church.
The stucco work dating from 1738 has been ascribed to Giuseppe Antonio Quadrio, while the frescoes have been attributed to Anton Josef Lerchinger (1720–after 1787) and therefore they are supposed to be a later work, dating from the 1750s, because the late 1730s would have been too early a date for this painter. Stylistic comparisons and several entries in the parish registers of Šmarje pri Jelšah allow us to refute both of these attributions together with the dating of the frescoes. The stuccoists undoubtedly came from Wessobrunn, Franz Resch and Johann Rausch ("ex Bavaria in Wessoprun") among others. Although neither of the two has been known as an individual artist until now, both of them came from important stuccoists' families. They most likely remained unregistered because they left Bavaria before they received any independent (as principal masters) and documented commission there. Neither could it be quite by chance that the name of the painter Joseph Waitenhiller was recorded in Šmarje parish registers for the first time exactly in 1737 (his presence there was documented until 1753). The painter, whose name has not been known until now, probably came to Slovenia from the same district as the stuccoists, he was possibly trained in Augsburg and is stylistically particularly close to Matthäus Günther (1705–1788) and Johann Baptist Zimmermann (1680–1758).