A Socio-Cultural Look at Eighteenth-Nineteenth-Century Samogitian Wood Carvings

  • Vilma Kilinskienė
Keywords: wood carvings, Aleksandras Vinkus-Vitkauskas, iconography, historical circumstances, socio-cultural context


In 2020, the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art hosted the exhibition ‘And the Word Became a Sight: Visual Narratives in Lithuanian Wood Carvings and Linocuts of the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries’. The purpose of the exhibition was to showcase scenes from the Bible, stories of the lives of the saints (the old eighteenth-nineteenth-century wood carvings), and illustrations of literary works (twentieth-century wood engravings and linocuts). Although the purpose was achieved, quite a few interesting aspects revealed during the preparation for the exhibition were left behind and overlooked during it, since the visual narratives were defined as direct biblical or literary stories brought to the audience by the carver. Therefore, this text will merely supplement these narratives with additional references that provide more context to the narratives of the engravings. The article dwells on the circumstances and authors of the works; among other authors, the focus is slightly stronger on Aleksandras Vinkus-Vitkauskas, whose 190th birth anniversary and 110th death anniversary will be commemorated in 2022. The narratives will gain broader historical and socio-cultural contexts that were discerned while exploring individual carving details or carved texts. Research was focused on eighteenth-nineteenth-century Samogitian wood carvings, as it was this particular group of exhibits that transcended the purpose of the exhibition in its eloquence. The article offers a short description of a number of interesting authors and pieces and explains specific qualities of certain types of iconography.

Visual Art