Stone picture book
Not far from the Naumburg suburb of Großjena, twelve reliefs more than a man's height are emblazoned on a large sandstone terrace wall in the middle of a vineyard. The so-called "Stone Album" is one of the most unusual monuments to wine and the largest image relief ever carved into a standing rock in the European cultural area.
The originator was the jeweler Johann Christian Steinauer, who came to wealth in Naumburg from 1705 as a purveyor to the court of Duke Christian II of Saxony-Weissenfels. Steinauer acquired a vineyard around 1720. Owning vineyards was considered a status symbol of Naumburg's wealthy middle class at the time. As a tribute to the duke, Steinauer had a relief carved out of the rocks of his vineyard on the occasion of his tenth anniversary on the throne. Most of the twelve reliefs bear the date of March 17, 1722, for this purpose, although some of them were created in the course of the next few years. Since the motifs of reliefs two and three do not match the ten others and bear coats of arms, it is assumed that they were created first.
To finance his project, Steinauer created a relief foundation in which many friends participated and thus courted the duke's favor. Among them were merchants from Augsburg and Berlin and the Naumburg pastor Fleuter.
The sculptor himself is unknown, but he created a masterpiece. Over a length of 150 meters, twelve scenes were created. Ten of them contain stories from the Bible. The remaining two show a fox hunt and the equestrian image of Duke Christian. Of the ten Bible stories, six deal directly with biblical wine stories. Thus, Lot's intoxication by his daughters can be seen, as well as Noah as the first vinedresser, Christ in the winepress, Joshua and Caleb returning with a heavy bunch of grapes, and the parable of the workers in the Lord's vineyard. Picture number five shows the wedding at Cana, where, according to the Bible, Jesus turned water into wine, along with an inscription, "God always makes water into wine/ Blessed is the fruit/ Damn the mixer/ Who does not seek refreshment."
The relief idea probably goes back to different origins. On the one hand, there was already a two-meter-high winged angel carved in sandstone in the Kroppe Valley. On the other hand, the written or painted album page dedicated to wine or hunting was very fashionable in the Rococo era. The latter is indicated by the inscriptions in the reliefs, which are presumed to be a kind of dedication pages of Steinauer's friends, as well as by the content of the reliefs (album pages) being linked to drinking or wine and the deep piety of the mostly biblical motifs. Both are characteristic for the mentioned time period.
Time has greatly affected the reliefs of red sandstone. Due to the acid rain and salt crystallizations, which led to the blasting off of various layers, is very advanced. In 1995, initial exploratory measures began to prevent further deterioration of the cultural monument. By the year 2000, around 3,000 liters of stone strengthener had been injected into the rocks via boreholes and particularly endangered parts were secured with salt storage mortar. To finance further maintenance, the "Müller Stiftung Berlin" and the "Gerd Erbslöh Stiftung" were founded with the support of the "Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz" (German Foundation for Monument Protection) and other donors, with the aim of preserving the rock reliefs.