Thursday, April 17, 2014

Medieval Wall Paintings uncovered at Kövi/Kameňany

Saint Anne with the Virgin at Kövi
The village of Kövi (Kameňany, SK) lies in the vicinity of Rimaszombat (Rimavská Sobota) and Rozsnyó (Rožňava), just north of the modern border between Hungary and Slovakia. In the middle ages, the settlement had an important castle, the ruins of which can still be seen above the settlement of Gömörrákos (Rákoš). The castle was built by members of the Ákos clan in the late 13th century, and it was later owned by descendents of the family, the Bebek and Csetneki families. In 1367, it was described as a ruin, but was rebuilt by about 1400, when the Bebek family alone obtained possession of it.

The parish church of Kövi dates also from the late 13th or only 14th century, and it has been known for some time that its walls preserve important medieval wall paintings. Parts of them were uncovered in 1977, but this work stopped soon afterwards. During the last few years, starting from 2011, the uncovery of these frescoes began again, and research so far has already yielded very important results. The frescoes have been uncovered on the walls of the semi-circular apse of the church, particularly on the northern wall. Here a series of the apostles can be seen, while the insede wall of the triumphal arch is decorated with female martyrs. Higher on the arch, the Wise and Foolish Virgins can be seen. More recently, restorer Peter Koreň has uncovered additional frescoes on the north wall of the nave. Here an impressive composition the Virgin and Child with St. Anne (Mettercia) has been found, which shows the extended family of the Virgin. More frescoes are to be found in the attic of the church, above the Baroque vault built into the nave. Here details of a Last Judgement scene can be seen. Photos of the frescoes can be seen on the very useful Slovakian portal of medieval churches, Apsida.sk. However, a picture of the St. Anne can be seen first on this blog, along with other images uncovered in the nave (I thank the restorer for providing me with images).


The finds at Kövi are of great importance. Although the frescoes appear to be somewhat fragmentary, their high quality can be seen, especially in some of the faces. A full uncovery of the ensemble and a careful restoration of the frescoes would result in a spectacular monument. The locality is important, because it is in a church which is right next to the medieval castle, which was one of the administrative centers of the region. The patrons of the frescoes were most likely the lords of the castle, so members of the powerful Bebek family. In the present state of research, the frescoes can be dated to the late 14th century or to around 1400 - but it has to mentioned that the frescoes of the nave and sanctuary date from two different painting campaigns. Overall, they appear to be related not only to nearby Gömörrákos, but also to the frescoes of the somewhat more distant Torna/Turňa nad Bodvou, a settlement near Kassa/Košice, the frescoes of which have also been recently uncovered. The full restoration of the Kövi frescoes will definitely considerably alter our knowledge of medieval wall painting in the region. It has to be mentioned that the historical region of medieval Gömör County preserves the richest ensemble of medieval wall paintings from the territory of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Along with the countless impressive painted monuments in the region - places such as Csetnek/Štítnik, Karaszkó/Kraskovo, Gecelfalva/Kocelovce, Gömörrákos/Rákoš, Ochtina/Ochtiná and others - research during recent years uncovered even more, such as the frescoes of sanctuary of Pelsőc/Plešivec. The churches can be visited along the Gothic Route of churches. It is to be hoped that within a short time, Kövi will become an important stopping point on this route.

Here are a few pictures of the frescoes in the sanctuary, where the high quality of the apostle frescoes can be observed:








14 comments:

  1. The proces of uncovered of mediewall frescoes and restoration is realizing with cooperation my colleagues Juraj Gregorek and Martin Vojtko and with arthistorian help of Szakálos Éva.

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    1. As usual, Magyar do not write names of Slovak professionals; he believes, HE is the first and only founder of art-works... Finally, why Slovak restores accepted taking photos by Magyar!?

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Peter, and for the addition of the names of your colleagues. I hope to hear more about the process of the restoration! Sorry about one of the commenters on this site.

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  2. Why you write local names in Hungarian!? The village is not part of modern-Hungary!!

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    1. But it was part of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, and history concerns itself with the past, and not the present.

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  3. Wall-paintings in Kameňany, administrative-district Revúca, (Slovakia) are known in literature from 1876. First professional findings are dated back to 1958; executed were by students of Academy of Fine Arts, Bratislava, leaded by Professor Karol Veselý.
    Finally, article above stays in traditions of Hungarian "research": We can read about "Gömör County," (= territories of Hungarian state), "lords of the important castle," (= state), "the powerful Bebek and Csetneki families," (= dynasty) etc., but no about the story in the frame of art of Slovakia as historical Kunstlandschaft. No evidence about land, and people! The frame of medieval art of Slovakia was not the (Hungarian) state!

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  4. Above all, directly in Kameňany were settled Franciscans, but monastery there collapsed already in the 15th century. It seems the roots of wall-paintings were not only "dynastic"...

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  5. OMG! The village of Kameňany (RA) is mentioned 1565 as "Kamenany" (later in 1773, 1786, too). Medieval spellings are "Kevy" (1243), "Kuuv" (1245) and "castrum Kewy" (1470). So no evidence on HUNGARIAN form of local name - medieval and early-modern Hungary was not state of Magyars only as you believe from the 19th century!! Above all, the art has very little common with the state - you write either 'history of art', or 'history of state'...

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    1. I'm sorry for telling this but in this very case your premises disprove your conclusion. The forms "Kevy", "Kuuv", "Kewy" just couldn't be more Hungarian. On the other hand, this has fairly little to do with your main concern. The principal thing is this: Since no settlements in Slovakia have genuine names in English, you may adapt any existing forms in any languages while writing in English. Linguistic phenomena emerge and spread by using, not by regulating, it is just that simple. (Who should regulate then, BTW?) In your own texts you may want to be consequent, based on your very own linguistic, historical, theoretical or whatsoever considerations. You have the freedom to do so in all conscience.
      What you ought not to do is to offend anyone for doing the same. And this last thing is pretty important.

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  6. First time was published traveloque article about Kameňany ( Kövi) in newsletter “Történelmi Lapok” (Historical news) in 1876 by I. Nagy. He wrote about fresco over renaissance vaults in the loft space. Karol Vesely realized restoration probe on the wall behind the main altar. In research partially continued Milan Togner in 1977. They defined the parts of character , probably S. Ladislaus. At present are uncovered frescoes on walls of the presbytery. Along the perimeter are characters of Apostles. There are framed with bordure with theme small heads in rhonbuses. On the triumphal arch is the fresco with theme Wise and foolish virgins. We found walled gothic pastoforium and late romanesque sedilia with Gothic frescoes on the background. There are trinity of holy bishops. Glorias and other details of garments are enriched with punched decorations with different designs.We thinks, that the author of the frescoes could be Italian master from Tuscany, Siena can be. Unexpected find was the fresco on the north wall of the ship from another author, but exceptional quality.

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  7. Knows someone object using a similar ornamental punched decorations on the fresco within historical Kingdom of Hungary or central Europe?

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  8. One example of such an ornanemtal decoration on a wall painting, specifically on a halo is the fresco fragment from Várad (Oradea), here is a photo

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    1. Thank you for tip, Zsombor. This is only fragment, which I knew. We know him from the book “Falképek kozépkori Magyarországon” ( Frescos in medieval Hungary) from Dénes Radocsay.

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