Portrait of hospital chaplain Robbert Pfeiff

Portrait of hospital chaplain Robert Pfeiff. Photo: Bergen City Museum.

On one wall of the choir, to the left of the altar, hangs the portrait of the hospital chaplain Robbert Pfeiff (1642–1725), with a ruff, curly hair and a Bible in his hand. With a slightly severe but mild gaze, it almost feels like he’s looking directly at you from over 300 years back in time.

On the other side of the window in the choir hangs the portrait of his wife Anna Margreta Møller. Both oil paintings date from 1690. Pfeiff was then 48 years old and had already been the chaplain at St. Jørgen’s for 17 years, but eventually worked here for three times as long, until his death at the age of 83 in 1725.

Robert Pfeiff was thus a chaplain here for over 50 years, but how long has his portrait hung here? The church burned down in the large city fire of 1702. Were these portraits hanging here then and were they rescued from the church in time, or did they arrive here later? Although we will probably never know, we can still wonder.

Pfeiff was actually minister in two different churches at St. Jørgen’s. When he became a chaplain here in 1673, the church was still relatively new, having been built after the city fire of 1640. After the fire of 1702, he and the hospital congregation had to make do without a church until 1707, before he went on to serve as chaplain of the current and then brand new church for the last third of his working life. 

The altarpiece in St. Jørgen’s Church. Photo: O. Espevoll. Directorate for Cultural Heritage.
For a period of time, the paintings of Robert Pfeiff and his wife hung on each side of the alter.
Photo: O. Espevoll. 1930. The Directorate for Cultural Heritage.

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