Woodcarvings in Val Gardena - Grödental.

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The valley has a long tradition of woodcarving going back to the 17th century.

The Troebinger and Vinazer Family were the first.

At this link the history of the beginnings (only German) by Wilhelm Moroder Lusenberg

pieta' Martin Vinazer

Martin Vinazer spent eight years in Venice and Rome at the turn of the 17th and 18th century learning his art.

I found this pieta' signed: Martin Vinazer 1717, all painted over in Trento and a thorough work of restauration by Luigi Rella gave it back the original colors and beauty .

Martin Vinazer

female saint signed M(artin) V(inazer) 1742

Martin Vinazer

St. Peter and St. Paul signed Martin Vinazer 1742

Martin Vinazer

Christ 18th century Madonna

These precious reliefs of Christ and Madonna signed MVF 1728 (Martin Vinazer Fecit) were sold at an auction in Paris to a florentine antiquarian and estimated to be venetian or northern Italian since the MVF signature was not recognised.

I was lucky when I strolled one day through the beautiful antique shops on Borgo Ognissanti in Florence and discovered these sculptures. I have been fancing of finding a Vinazer all the time in my youth when I worked as the custodian at the Museum in Ortisei and this discovery was beyond my wildest dreams.

Somptuous series of 12 Apostles from the Vinazer school now on display in the local Art Museum of Ortisei

photograph courtesy by Robert Moroder

Apostuli - Aposteln - apostoli

Saint Mary and Saint John

St. Mary and Sain John were placed usually on the side of a crucifix

photograph courtesy by Robert Moroder

Saint Joseph

photograph courtesy by Robert Moroder

St. Joseph - Hl. Joseph - San Giuseppe

San Michele - Hl. Michael - archangel Michael

Saint Michael

rococo genre sculptures

This and many more are testimonies that genre figure carving was highly sofisticated in Val Gardena in the 18th century. The painting was done in order to imitate Meissen porcelan.

This is a couple of musicians plaing the gironde and the bagpipe purchased at an antiquarin on Broadway NYC in 1990.

Typical genre figurine carved in Val Gardena in the mid 700 purchased in Vienna.

genre figurine

Summer and winter, Insta y dinviern

The four seasons were a common item in the Val Gardena repertoire of genre scultures.

Purchased at the Louvre des Antiqaires in Paris July 1999 (it was a lucky but expensive trip)

Genre figurines purchased in Vail Colorado, imported from France.

genre figurines from Veil

summer and autumn

The depiction of the four seasons was often a subject of Val Gardena's genre carving. In this case a couple of primitive nudes with impossible "anatomies" discovered in the lofts of New York's antique dealers.

Four polichromed seasons

four seasons

The beggars in Val Gardena 18th century genre woodcarving

Beggars 18th century

See some of the items of my collection of Val Gardena baroque genre and religious art.

I bought the two beggars, carved in the 18th century in Val Gardena, on Madison Av. in New York City (good luck ha?). Well you can't imagine how excited I was when I found them.

The female carries a old musical instrument (gironde) and the man the baby and something on his back I don't know what it is ...you are very wellcome to send me some suggestions.

They are now on display at the etnical Museum of Val Gardena in Ortisei/Urtijei.

Read more on the woodcarved beggars in an article by Paolo Caneppele (Italian)

Beggars with gironde and child

An other pair of beggars purchased at the Louvre des Antiqaires in Paris July 1999



Pettleri, poreti,  lumberc

Poor people, many coming from poor italian regions were called with despise "lumberc" (same root as "lombards" or italians).

This pair of beggars was also purchased at the Louvre des Antiqaires in Paris July 1999

Flax trader

There is evidence that the people in Val Gardena traded also linen (flax) before the big scale toy production began.


Beggar, Bettler, mendicante

Beggar with a pot and bagpipe

Beggar with a pot and bagpipe

more on the beggars

The 19th century

wooden toy

Val Gardena was considered and described by Amelia Eduards as the toys capital of the world.

A wooden doll from Val Gardena

At those times wood and porcelan were the only materials toys were made of. You'd not believe that in the mid 18th century in Val Gardena the yearly production of stickdolls was one million pieces all hadcarved. Everything was made by hand at those times.

Pennydolls, dutch dolls or stickdolls were the Barbies of the last century.

This doll was found in USA il 1989 after I have searched for years on the antique markets without success.


The Adventures of two Dutch Dolls And A Golliwogg by Bertha Upton, illustrated by Florence K. Upton, 1895. Some beautyful images on that book which shows the popularity of these dolls in the English world.


Animals were also one of the most frequently carved toys or decorative articles.

I like to call this one a tigerdog. I found it at an antique dealer in Bolzano.

These rather baroque looking chandeliers were turned and carved probably up to the mid-ninteenth century.

Lion - lion - Loeve - Leone

I found a couple of precious lions, probably from the beginning of the last century, at the antique market in Arezzo. They have a special rough skin obtained putting the carvings covered with glue in corn powder.

Everybody used to carve in Val Gardena even children and the quality of the products was not always excellent. For these animals the carver probably didn't use a picture and carved from his memory.

Lion - lion - Loeve - Leone

Sculpture in the late 19th century

Hunters - Jaeger - cacciatori

Skillfully carved cup in boxwood with chamois hunters a frequent subject of Val Gardenas figures in the 18th century.

In the 19th century the art school in Ortisei provided good art education and the woodcarvers works achieved high levels of skill and artistic quality. This wooden figure was also acquired in New York City.

Photograph courtesy by Robert Moroder

malan , krampus, diavolo

man from Zillertal

This rather sad looking chap is a conductor in a typical Zillertal (Tyrol) costume. The polychrome wooden carving was probably made in Josef Moroder Lusenberg's atelier and purchased in New York in 1989. The pipe, baton and script are missing.

The Moroder family started trading woodcarvings in the early 19th century. They installed trading subsidiaries in Ancona and Rieti in Italy, Lyon France and in Valencia Spain. In the second half of the last century some of them became the most finest artists in the vally (for more information go to the Moroder Family page)

20th century

Pastra - Hirtin - Pastorella - shepherd

In the 20s the naturalistic and expressionistic art influenced greatly a very skilled wood-sculptor Luis Insam in his art

Vallazza Rudi

Fabbro - Respiro


Scultori in Legno di Val Gardena

Read: Sculptors in Val Gardena in the thirties (Italian text)

Franz Runggaldier -Villa Piemonte 1945

Holzschnitzerei - wooden sculpture - scultura in legno

Holzschnitzerei - wooden sculpture - scultura in legno

  • Read: Arthur Haberlandt: Die Holzschnitzerei im Grödener Tale, part 1, Vienna 1914 (German text and pictures)

  • Read: Arthur Haberlandt: Die Holzschnitzerei im Grödener Tale, part 2, Vienna 1914 (German text and pictures)

    back to Wolfgang Moroder homepage