Hoffmann - Sculptor of Ushaw

Karl Hoffmann (1816-1872)

Karl Hoffmann is justly considered the Sculptor of Ushaw as our holdings include the largest and most significant collection of the artist’s work in the world. The first of Hoffmann’s sculptures to arrive at Ushaw was Our Lady of Clemency in 1852. This had been commissioned by Monsignor Charles Newsham, Ushaw’s President, in 1849. 

Our Lady of Clemency was produced in Rome where Hoffmann had his studio and where he was closely associated with the Nazarene group of artists. The Nazarenes, under the leadership of Johann Friedrich Overbeck (1789-1869), were a group of Catholic German artists who sought to resurrect religions art, taking their inspiration from Albrecht Dürer and Raphael. When Hoffmann converted to Catholicism in 1844 Overbeck acted as his godfather. Upon completion of the commission, Hoffman’s Our Lady of Clemency was consecrated by Pope Pius IX in the Vatican gardens prior to its transfer to Ushaw.

The religious aspect of the art of the Nazarenes was, no doubt, what led to Newsham’s interest in their work. Three further statues by Hoffmann, including the magnificent Our Lady of Help (1855), affectionately known as Our Lady of Ushaw, were acquired in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The work of Franz von Rohden, a painter associated with the Nazarene group, is also well-represented at Ushaw. Discover more about von Rohden’s paintings at Ushaw here.