Showing posts with label Miklós Boskovits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miklós Boskovits. Show all posts

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In memoriam Miklós Boskovits

Miklós Boskovits in 2005 
I learned with sadness of the passing of Miklós Boskovits, perhaps the most eminent art historian of Hungarian origin. The sad news was announced by Villa I Tatti in Florence, where Boskovits had been a fellow back in the 1960s, a short time after he had left Hungary. Miklós Boskovits, a university professor at the University of Florence and researcher at the Kunsthistorisches Institut was the leading expert of Florentine (and Italian) late medieval and early Renaissance painting. He was the author of a number of collection catalogues of early Italian paintings for major museums - including the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (1988), the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (2001), and most recently, the National Gallery of Art, Washington (2003). He wrote the most extensive monograph on Florentine painting of the late 14th century (1975), and took over the editing of the Corpus of Florentine Painting, started by Richard Offner in 1930 - authoring two recent volumes of the series: about the Origins of Florentine Painting and, more recently (in 2007) about the Mosaics of the Baptistery of Florence. He also worked on a number of major exhibition projects, and served as the editor of Arte Cristiana.
He was 76 years old.


Miklós Boskovits received his training as an art historian in Hungary, at Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest. Emigrating to Italy, he joined the ranks of a number of eminent Hungarian researchers working abroad. Listing only those working on Florentine art, we have to mention Frederick Antal, author of Florentine Painting and its Social Background (1948), and two great Michelangelo-scholars: Johannes Wilde and Charles de Tolnay. Throughout his career, Boskovits maintained close contacts with his home country, and was always willing to help his fellow Hungarians. He was instrumental in establishing a program at Villa I Tatti, providing a grant to art historians from East-Central Europe (a program benefiting a lot of Hungarian scholars). He was always very helpful to me, as well: consulting with me as I was writing my dissertation; helping a lot as a member of the advisory board of the 2006 Sigismundus-exhibition, and advising me in my research on Masolino, during my I Tatti fellowship last year. His death was unexpected, and he will be greatly missed.

You can browse the books written or edited by him at Kubikat - where you can also find his other publications numbering in the hundreds.


Update: I would like to call attention to a few more obituaries of Boskovits:


Notice in Il Giornale dell'Arte
Neville Rowley in The Art Tribune
Obituary in the Storia dell'Arte blog - with links to several newspaper articles
Finally, the brief news which appeared in the Hungarian press

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Botticelli in Esztergom?

Temperantia
Esztergom, Studiolo of palace
Photo via artmagazin 
I did not want to write this post. A great discovery has been announced a few years ago (frescoes painted by Botticelli have been identified in Esztergom!) but I still remain skeptical. Also, as I have been unable to study these frescoes personally during the last few years, and having never worked on Botticelli, I don't really have a very strong art historical argument to put forward here or in a more scholarly publication. In the end I decided to simply list a few facts here.

1. The medieval royal - later archiepiscopal - palace of Esztergom has been ruined and buried during the Turkish wars of the 16th-17th centuries (see this earlier post). The remains of the palace have been uncovered between 1934-38 in a large-scale archaeological campaign. Two large sets of frescoes were found on the walls of the building: a mid-14th century fresco-cycle in the chapel, painted by Riminese masters (in my opinion), and fragments of an early Renaissance cycle in one of the rooms of the palace. The room has been identified as the Studiolo of the archbishops of Esztergom, and the four surviving figures of the Renaissance fresco cycle as allegories of four virtues.


2. Starting in 2000, a new restoration campaign, led by Zsuzsanna Wierdl was started on the frescoes of Esztergom. Many later retouches, discolored repairs have to be removed, while structural problems of the entire building although had to be solved. This work is still not finished, in fact it largely stopped about two years ago, due to lack of funding. It is to be hoped that it will be continued this year, as the frescoes remain largely inaccessible (link to Hungarian article about funding).

The four Virtues at Esztergom, before restoration 

3. At a conference (pdf) held at Villa i Tatti, Florence in 2007, restorer Zsuzsanna Wierdl and art historian Mária Prokopp presented their findings, announcing that the figure of Temperance at Esztergom was painted by Sandro Botticelli in the 1460s, commissioned by archbishop Johannes Vitéz. The Hungarian cultural minister, who happened to be in Rome at that time, announced that Botticelli frescoes have been found in Hungary, and the international and Hungarian press was enthusiastic (link to Reuters article, to serve as an example). Participants at the conference were less enthusiastic, and lively debate continued as the conference embarked on an excursion to Hungary. Pro and contra arguments were published in the Hungarian press - particularly lively was the rebuttal of the theory by Louis A. Waldman, assistant director of Villa I Tatti, and a noted expert of the period. Waldman's argument was published in an interview in a Hungarian weekly, Élet és irodalom. Other experts, most notably Miklós Boskovits expressed their doubts (summary in this Hungarian article). The acts of the Florentine conference - co-edited by Dr. Waldman - are to be published in the near future.


Fortitudo in Esztergom and a detail from Botticelli's Birth of Venus (Uffizi)
Comparison by Zsuzsanna Wierdl, Studiolo