Author: Dietrich Walter
Material: wood, oil
Technique: wood carving, oil painting
On the southern side of the central nave of the Riga Cathedral, separated by barriers, once there were lodges of several organizations: Riga City Hall, Grand Guild, Small Guild and Blackheads Society Lodge. The Blackheads Society lodge stood out with its luxury, among others. The decor of the lodge has remained to this day – fragments of the railing, coat of arms and wall panel.
Among the most lavish examples of Baroque sculpture in Latvia’s late 17th century art are the pews of the Blackheads’ Brotherhood. The artist is known to be the sculptor and image carver Dietrich Walter (?–1700) who had come to Riga from Stockholm in 1679. The master made the pews for the Brotherhood in 1693
The sector of seats was marked by a rich decoration with figural and ornamental motifs. In line with the Brotherhood’s name, exotic black figures predominate. They form a representative guard of honor. Heraldic heads of black warriors are repeated on the shields of the sculpted images and their profiles are diversified in the barrier panels between acanthus and palm leaf garlands.
The pompous Baroque rhetoric culminates in the panelling of the medieval supporting pillar with the emblem of the Blackheads’ Brotherhood in relief in the centre.
In 1959, after the expulsion of the parish of the Riga Cathedral and the secularization of the church, the former seats were removed and the existing lodges were dismantled. The most valuable fragments of woodcarvings were preserved by creating a rectangular structure placed in the hall near its former location. The coat of arms of the society and the wall panel are in their original place.