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History & Tradition


Two extremely important columns of our studio.

At the moment, Ferdinand Stuflesser 1875 is headed by the 5. generation. Here are some of the important milestones:

The fourth generation, 1973 – 2004

The fourth generation began in the 1970s, when Ferdinando Stuflesser took over the family business. Ferdinando was educated in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. He is renowned for his tireless search for improvement, perfection and for the guarantee of quality necessary for a healthy customer satisfaction. He gave great importance to our vast archive, which still gives us the ability to trace sculptures carved in our workshops in the past. The Archive also gives us an indispensable selection of original sketches and drawings. Having travelled around the United States of America and Italy, he has built up an impressive network of business relations. Ferdinando led this generation with the invaluable collaboration of his wife Marlene Comploj, who still works in the office. Ferdinando invented the name Ars Sacra 1875 Ferdinand Stuflesser. Having chosen to specialize in restoring, Ferdinando also has had the pleasure of restoring works which were created by his grandfather and great-grandfather – a task which he considers to be a huge honor and privilege for him. He also carved quite a few monuments. One of the most appreciated works was the cast bronze carvings representing the four Evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. John and St. Luke in Miami, Florida.


The third generation, 1935 – 1973

The third generation began with Ferdinand Stuflesser II, who had been managing the art studio from 1939 onwards. During World War II the workshops were closed. After having overcome the initial difficulties after World War II, Ferdinand II developed a type of wood treatment which is still used and praised in our workshops.


He made a distinct contribution to the growth and fame of the studio. Many of the creations of his period can be found in Italy, Germany and in the United States of America.


The second generation, 1910 – 1935

The second generation of our studio was led by Johann Stuflesser, who was born in 1883. He continued this ancient tradition traveling mostly through the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Working for the Catholic Community, specialized Ecclesiastical retailers and dealers, Johann was indisputably known for his entrepreneurial capabilities. It was his idea to set up an exhibition department as a part of the studio, where, to this day, people can admire our carved works. The second generation was, at one point, somewhat slow-moving, as a result of four years of inactivity during World War I between 1914 and 1918. In 1918, Ortisei, which now lies on the Italian-Austrian border, suddenly went from Austrian to Italian. This change in geographical boundaries led to an increase in Italian customers and sales.


The first generation, 1875 – 1910

The originator of the Ferdinand Stuflesser was Ferdinand Stuflesser I, who was born in 1855. He was one of the most enterprising woodcarvers of that period. Having learned the art of woodcarving from his relatives, he registered the studio as a business in 1875 (first provable registration).

His father, Johann Evangelist Stuflesser, traveled around ancient Europe between 1840 and 1855, selling his skilled craft. Johann Evangelist was part of the business “Sanoner, Stuflesser & Mahlknecht”, which sold its goods in the Rue Mercière in Lyon, France. Johann Evangelist was found dead in 1857 in Marseille, France.

The founder Ferdinand, a pioneer in the field of ecclesiastical crafts, created this unique workshop because of his passion for the art. He was supported by his wife Anamaria Senoner, whose language skills were appreciated for the correspondence with foreign customers.

Experience, courage to develop new techniques and skillful artistic ability had always been the aim of the young woodcarver. His studio, which was sub-divided in three workshops, was situated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was able to organize and employ planners, 16 sculptors and eight carpenters. Additionally, 100 sculptors worked for the firm in their homes. The painter master, Luis Kostner, employed around 24 craftsmen, ranging from painters and gilders. In the period between 1880 and 1914 the firm had so many clients that it was able to create 70 Altars in just one year (this from our yearbooks).

What was the key strength of this studio so that it was able to operate internationally at the end of the nineteenth century? Without any doubt the quality of the creations, the sense of responsibility we still have for the creations that leave our workshops, the communication with our artists and customers and the constant technological innovation. The carvings of this first era, which include Statues, Stations of the Cross and majestic Altars, can, to this day, be admired in churches, monasteries and convents in Italy and in the Austro-Hungarian nations, including actual Austria, Poland and Russia. Some of the creations also reached as far as Australia.

Ferdinand started with the Stuflesser archive, which is still used to inspire our works and to identify and trace some of the works that have left our workshops in the past.

During the early days, the art studio was continually growing. It participated at numerous international fairs and won several prizes.

The Ars Sacra 1875 Ferdinand Stuflesser studio also won prizes for its activity in the ecclesiastical field. Around the 1890s, the art studio received important awards, such as:

  • Furnishers to the Holy See, “Fornitore di Sua Santità Pio X°”;
  • Prize by Pope Leone XIII°;
  • the honorary title “the order of Saint Sylvester”;
  • the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontefice” Medal.
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