A Legacy of Resistance: The Case of the Freckenhorst Baptismal Font
Since 1823 the consecration date of 1129 for the Church of St. Boniface, inscribed on the Freckenhorst baptismal font from the imperial convent of St. Boniface (Westphalia, Germany), has continued to be considered, by some, the date for when the font was carved. For over two hundred years this precocious date has divided academic communities, despite the numerous and comprehensive counter arguments asserting that the font is a later twelfth century if not early thirteenth century vessel. This raises the question, “Why has there been such resistance to recognize this vessel as a later product of the prolific Westphalian stone industry?” This article reviews the historiography to uncover the roots of the ‘sanctified status’ that the Freckenhorst font acquired over the centuries from the post-Imperial period of Germany through the two World Wars. The literature reveals not only why the Freckenhorst font came to symbolize ‘Germanic ingenuity’ for German art historians but also the challenges and changes within the evolving discipline of art history and the scholarly networks that connected art historians in the first half of the twentieth century.