Showing posts with label Renaissance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Renaissance. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Corvinian manuscripts on view in Budapest

The Polybios-Corvina at the exhibition. Photo: National Széchényi Library 
Four precious manuscripts from the famed library of King Matthias Corvinus, the Bibliotheca Corviniana are on view for a short time at the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. The four manuscripts are the ones which were returned to Hungary by Sultan Abdülaziz in 1869, so the exhibition is titled: The Sultan's Gift. Four Corvinian Manuscripts from the Serai.

The exhibition takes us back not only to the period when King Matthias (1458-1490) established the first major Humanistic library of Europe outside Italy, but also to the 19th century, when Hungarian aristocrats and scholars carried out a long-term struggle to reclaim at least a few volumes from the library of Matthias Corvinus. Works in the library numbered 2500 at the death of the king, while several manuscripts were still unfinished for him in Florence (these entered the library of the Medicis). Soon after his death, this library began to lose volumes - first western Humanists started taking volumes, as gifts from King Wladislas II (who was less interested in books). Then during the period when Hungary started battling the Ottoman Empire, and was beset by internal strife (between the Battle of Mohács in 1526, and the capture of Buda in 1541), this process accelerated. A lot of the volumes were then taken to Istanbul when the castle of Buda fell to the Turks. As a result of this long process, by the early 19th century, not a single Corvinian manuscript was known within Hungary. The first manuscript to return to Hungary (more specifically, to Transylvania), was a Tacitus volume acquired by Sámuel Teleki for his library at Marosvásárhely in 1805 (the manuscript today is at the Beinecke Library of Yale University). Several attempts after this were unsuccesful to acquire a Corvina manuscript for the nation's capital, Buda. Although the Dialogues of Ludovicus Carbo, a rather modest early Corvinian manuscript, was donated to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1840, this failed to create significant interest (but now it is available in a digital facsimile edition, with commentary). Finally, attention was focused to Istanbul, in hopes that some of the manuscripts can be identified there. In 1862, Ferenc Kubinyi, Arnold Ipolyi and Imre Henszlmann finally identifed some manuscripts in Istanbul, at the library of the imperial palace. Then in 1869, on occasion of the opening of the Suez canal, the sultan gave four volumes to Emperor and King Franz Joseph I. The ruler then duly gave the manuscripts the National Museum (from which they entered the National Library along with other manuscript material). The in 1877, Sultan Abdul Hamid II decided to donate a further 35 manuscripts to Budapest, which entered the University Library (it soon turned out that only about 13 of these manuscripts originate from the library of King Matthias - for more information, read the study of Csaba Csapodi on the history of the library).

The title page of the Trapezuntius-Corvina. National Széchényi Library 


The present exhibition features the four manuscripts returned to Hungary in 1869. The manuscripts are the following (with link to digital facsimiles):

Cod. Lat. 234: The Historiae of Plolybius, a Florentine codex dating between 1450-1470
Cod. Lat. 241: Plautus: Comediae, a Florentine codex from before 1459
Cod. Lat. 121: A Neapolitan manuscript of Augustinus' De civitate Dei
Cod. Lat. 281: The Rhetorica of Trapezuntius, a Latin translation of the work in a manuscript made in Buda in the 1480s.

The binding of the Augustinus-Corvina, photo taken during
 installation. Source: National Library Facebook-page
The exhibition was organized in connection with the Budapest Book Festival, the guest of honor of which is Turkey. Becauses of this, a few Turkish manuscripts are also on view, as well as the early 16th century genealogical roll of Turkish emperors (Genealogia Turcorum imperatorum) by Felix Petancius. The books are only on view until May 6th. The curator of the exhibition is Edina Zsupán - she is also featured in a well-documented article about the installation process (in Hungarian).

To receive more information on the Corvinian manuscripts, please take a look at these pages of my website and blog: New research on the Corvinian Library (with links to full-text publications), and my page on digitized Hungarian manuscripts, with direct links to over 100 Corvinian manuscripts. You can also get a lot of more photos on the Facebook page of the library.


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Raphael drawings in Budapest #raphaelhasan

Raphael: Head of an Angel.
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 
Today is the birthday of Raphael, who was born in 1483. Only 37 years later, it was also on this day that he died and was laid to rest in the Pantheon). In the art history blogging community, this day is an occassion for remembering one of the pioneers of this field: Hasan Niyazi, who passed away unexpectedly last year. Hasan was mainly known as the author of the excellent art history blog Three Pipe Problem, but he was also dedicated to the study and research of the work of Raphael. Among his legacy in this field, I would like to mention his Open Raphael Project, which can hopefully be carried on somehow. Despite the fact that he was not an art historian by training, Hasan brought new insights to the field, and his clear reasoning based on evidence, logic and a background in the sciences led him to new results. Hasan was also tireless in connecting the authors of art history blogs to each other, and was a source of constant inspiration to others. He posted interviews on his blog, and often invited guest bloggers to contribute a post. He was always willing to help with comments, links or scanned articles sent via email. I will remain grateful to him for encouraging my efforts when I started this blog a few years ago. As a commemoration, art history bloggers are posting blog entries today on topics related to his interests - all of which are linked from his blog

I am sure Hasan Niyazi would have been interested in an exhibition which closed last week at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Budapest. Titled Triump of Perfection - Raphael, the exhibition presented Renaissance drawings and prints from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.

Raphael: Study of the Figure of Venus. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest preserves six drawings by Raphael: an early study for his first Perugian altarpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin, a study for Saint Jerome from his stay in Florence, the compositional sketch for the Disputa in the Vatican Palace, a powerful Angel Head for the Sala di Costantino, a unique preliminary drawing for the renowned Massacre of the Innocents engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi, and the silverpoint Venus, a superb masterpiece of the High Renaissance. The drawings are accessible in the collection database of the Museum, and I provided direct links to the records. 


Esterházy Madonna, detail

The exhibition also included works by the followers of Raphael, as well as copies made after his drawings, to illustrate the great influence of the master in the early 16th century. The list of works on display is accessible from the website of the museum, as is the first chapter of the catalogue, written by Zoltán Kárpáti and Eszter Seres.

Another famed work, which - being unfinished - provides an insight into the working process of Raphael, was also on display: the Esterházy Madonna. For this occassion an online presentation was made about the condition and restoration of the Esterházy Madonna. This treatment was necessitated by the infamous theft of the panel in 1983, along with six other masterpieces. The online presentation of this restoration and the technical examinations is something that our late friend Hasan Niyazi would have surely appreciated. I dedicate this brief post to his memory.


Update: As pointed out in a comment below by Zoltán Kárpáti, you can study high resolution photos and technical data of the Budapest Raphael drawings at the following link: www.raphael.printsanddrawings.hu

Raphael: Esterházy Madonna. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 




Saturday, November 09, 2013

Renaissance art in Hungary: An exhibition in Florence

Andrea del Verrocchio: Alexander the Great
Washington, National Gallery of Art
The exhibition Matthias Corvinus and Florence - Art and Humanism at the Court of the King of Hungary is now on view at the Museo di San Marco in Florence (10 October 2013 - 6 January 2014). The 2008 Budapest exhibition dedicated to the same period in the framework of the Renaissance Year, and the conference held in 2007 at Villa I Tatti lead to the idea of an exhibition to be organized in Florence, to show the impact of Florentine Renaissance at the court of King Matthias (1458-1490). The exhibition was jointly organized by the Budapest History Museum and the Museo di San Marco. 

At this point I can only quote the general presentation of the exhibition from the central website of the project. I plan to come back to the subject once I get a copy of the catalogue.

"Using works of art from a broad range of disciplines - painting, sculpture, ceramics and illuminated codices from various museums both in Europe and the United States - the exhibition sets out to illustrate Hungarian Humanism's roots in Italy and the crucial role played by the dissemination of the Florentine Renaissance style in the country's artistic development, a cultural legacy which has continued to underpin Hungarian culture up to the present day.


Giovanni Dalmata: Portrait of King Matthias
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 
The exhibition reconstructs some of the contacts that played a crucial role in determining the Hungarian court's cultural and artistic choices. Thus it illustrates the trends in the king's taste, setting them against the backdrop of the Florentine context of his time, while also endeavouring, by drawing a number of parallels, to identify the possible influence on those choices exercised by Lorenzo the Magnificent and his entourage of thinkers and artists. In this context, special attention is devoted to the libraries of Matthias Corvinus and of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and pride of place is given to the precious illuminated codices commissioned by Matthias Corvinus for his library, now sadly dispersed. Some of these manuscripts, which remained unfinished in Florence on Matthias' death, were subsequently purchased by the Medici.

Some of the most outstanding loans include Matthias Corvinus' throne tapestry from the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest produced to a design by Antonio del Pollaiolo, a marble relief with the portrait of Alexander the Great from the National Gallery in Washington attributed to Andrea del Verrocchio, Matthias Corvinus' Bible from the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana illuminated by Monte and Gherardo di Giovanni, the portraits of Matthias Corvinus and Beatrice of Aragon attributed to Giovanni Dalmata (Ivan Duknović) from the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest and Marliano's Epithalamium from the Biblioteca Guarnacci in Volterra, with a portrait of Matthias by an illuminator from the circle of Leonardo da Vinci." The exhibition also includes Franceso Laurana's exquisite portrait of Beatrice of Aragon from the Frick Collection.

Finally, a few words about the wonderful relief Alexander the Great by Verrocchio, which I selected as the first image for this post. This object best exemplifies the high level of artistic contacts between Florence and Hungary. Giorgio Vasari mentions "two heads of metal, likewise in half-relief; one of Alexander the Great, in profile, and the other a fanciful portrait of Darius; each being a separate work by itself, with variety in the crests, armor, and everything else." He goes on to explain: "Both these heads were sent to Hungary by the elder Lorenzo de'Medici, the Magnificent, to King Matthias Corvinus, together with many other things, as will be told in the proper place." The original bronze reliefs did not survive, but are known from a number of later copies and variants. This indicates that the model of the reliefs was kept at the studio of Verrocchio. The marble relief in Washington is regarded as one of the most faithful copies. The reliefs were more recently analyzed by Francesco Cagliotti in the Villa I Tatti conference volume on Italy & Hungary in the Renaissance. The full bibliography can be found on the website of the National Gallery of Art.



More information on the exhibition can be found on the website of the Museo di San Marco. You can also read about it in The New York Times and in Hungarian daily Népszabadság. A photo gallery of objects on view accompanies the article in La Nazione.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogueMattia Corvino e Firenze. Arte e umanesimo alla corte del re di Ungheria, a cura di Péter Farbaky, Dániel Pócs, Magnolia Scudieri, Lia Brunori, Enikő Spekner, András Végh. Firenze, Giunti, 2013.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Once more on "Botticelli in Esztergom"


It has recently been stated by the Hungaarian government that new financial sources have been provided for the completion of the restoration of the medieval castle complex in Esztergom, in particular that of the early Gothic castle chapel and the adjoining spaces, which are decorated with frescoes. The 14th century frescoes of the chapel as well as the late 15th century frescoes of the so-called 'Studiolo' have been under restoration since 2000 - an impossibly long time. With the new funds, the end maybe is in sight - the chapel will be accessible again as early as next Spring, while the frescoes of the Studiolo will be on view again in 2015.

Recently, most attention has been given to these Renaissance frescoes, following the sensational claim made by restorer Zsuzsanna Wierdl and art historian Mária Prokopp in 2007 that the figure of Temperantia from a series of the Virtues was painted by the young Botticelli, who was in Hungary during the 1460s. Although disputed soon after the announcement, the authors keep repeating this claim, which has been published in various places - including the acts of the 2007 conference on Italy and Hungary in the Renaissance, held at Villa I Tatti in Florence. I reported on this claim and some response it received in an earlier post. According to an article published this week in Hungarian daily Népszabadság, the authors claim that their attribution of the fresco to Botticelli has gained acceptance and has not been refuted until now. In fact, they now believe that all surviving figures of the Virtues can be attributed to Botticelli. Well, Népszabadság may not be an authoritative source on questions of attribution - but it is definitely wrong on the issue of responses to the Botticelli-attribution. Let's see a few publications on the subject!

Conditions at the Esztergom 'Studiolo' during recent years
First, I would like to call attention on the publications of Mária Prokopp and Zsuzsanna Wierdl. The attribution to Botticelli was first presented at the Villa I Tatti conference held in 2007 - the conference volume has since been published, with texts by both authors on the subject. The authors have also published a Hungarian-language book on the subject, and their arguments have been summarized in a number of other publications, for example in Rivista di Studi Ungheresi in 2012. If you would like just a quick overview, read the article by Mária Prokopp, published in Hungarian Review. In addition to stylistic and historical arguments, the attribution rests on the interpretation of the letters MB incised in the frescoes, supposedly referring to  "(Alessandro di) Mariano, detto Botticelli".

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Medieval and Renaissance exhibitions in NYC

Even though New York obviously has no original medieval buildings (except for those built into The Cloisters), the City is home to wonderful collections of medieval art. The Metropolitan Museum houses the largest and best collection of medieval art in the US, much of it on display in the main building, while many more are on view at The Cloisters, the branch of the museum devoted to the European Middle Ages. The Morgan Library and the New York Public Library house hundreds of valuable medieval illuminated manuscripts. (To see how many objects from medieval Hungary these collections hold, have a look at my preliminary checklist). I had a chance to spend two days in New York this past week - instead of these permament collections, I seeked out some Medieval and Renaissance exhibitions, which I will briefly describe below.

St. Mark preaching - Ivory panel from the
so-called Grado Chair, 7th-8th c.
First on my list was the Byzantium and Islam exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum, which actually closes today. This large exhibition is part of a series of shows curated by Helen C. Evans and dedicated to Byzantine Culture (a series which acutually started with Kurt Weitzmann's 1977 exhibition titled The Age of Spirituality). The two earlier exhibitions - “The Glory of Byzantium” in 1997 and “Byzantium: Faith and Power” in 2004 - focused on later periods of Byzantine art (the Middle Byzantine period and the last centuries of the Byzantine empire, respectively), while the current exhibition goes back to the early centuries of Byzantium, exploring the vast southern part of the Empire. The focus is on the diverse cultural traditions (Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Jewish, etc.) and on the emergence of a new force in the region: Islam. The exhibition is arranged thematically, surveying first religious art of the Byzantine empire, then focusing on themes of secular art (such as commerce or dress), finishing with Islamic religious art. The website of the museum gives a very good overview of the material on view, and more in-depth information is provided by tthe accompanying blog.

While the earlier exhibitions mainly focused on highlights of Byzantine art - icons, luxury manuscripts, goldsmith works - and on the connections of Byzantium with western Europe and Latin Christianity, this exhibition was quite different. The exhibition looked to the Eastern and Southern neighbours of Byzantium, and raised a number of very interesting and novel questions about cultural transfer and the co-existence of different traditions. Naturally, the show also includes a number of truly spectacular items: such as the famous Rabbula Gospels from 586 or the wonderful ivories of the so-called Grado Chair. The narrative was clear, and the display - as always at the Met - was wonderfully arranged. Overall, however, I was not quite as impressed with this exhibition as with the 1997 "Glory of Byzantium" - the wonderful display of icons from the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mt. Sinai remains a vivid memory to this day from the earlier exhibition. Due to political circumstances, no loans arrived from Egypt this time. These objects, however, are included in the catalogue - their presence would have definitely made the whole exhibition different.

Head of a man.
Bohemian, 1360-1380 

Currently, there is one more exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum focusing on Medieval and Renaissance art: titled Dürer and Beyond, it displays Central European Drawings, 1400–1700. It starts with a few beautiful Bohemian drawings, well-known from the Prague: The Crown of Bohemia exhibition (2005). In other parts of the museum, there are additional special displays, including the Rylands Haggadah (mid 14th c., Catalonia), Renaissance illuminations from the Robert Lehman Collection, and a handful of Northern Italian paintings from the Accademia Carrara at Bergamo.





Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Villa I Tatti at Budapest

Lino Pertile, the director of Villa I Tatti (The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence), as well as Assistant Director Jonathan Nelson are in Budapest these days. Villa I Tatti has had very close connections with Hungary - generally every year they had at least one Fellow from Hungary. This connection is also reflected in the research interests at I Tatti - the Italian (especially Florentine) connections of Hungarian Humanism and early Renaissance art have always been in strong focus. This connection resulted last year in the publication of the book titled Italy and Hungary - Humanism and Art in the Early Renaissance (see my review here). The book will be presented tomorrow at the Budapest History Museum.

While the presentation of the book is clearly one of the main reasons of the visit of I Tatti's directors, they are both giving lectures while here. Lino Pertile gave a lecture in the framework of the Medieval Afternoon at the Central European University, while Jonathan Nelson will give a lecture about 15th century Florentine painters at the Art History Department of ELTE tomorrow. Hopefully these events will further strengthen the ties of Villa I Tatti to Hungary.

Oh, and what else happened at CEU's Medieval Afternoon? The event marked the inauguration of CEU Medieval Radio, which you can find and listen to here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Italy and Hungary in the Renaissance (Book review)

Back in 2007, a major conference was organized at Villa I Tatti (The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence), dedicated to Humanism and early Renaissance art in the Kingdom of Hungary. The conference aimed to give an overview of the field, focusing naturally on connections between Italy and Hungary. In August 2011, the long-awaited volume of the these studies has been published by Villa I Tatti, edited by Péter Farbaky and Louis A. Waldman. The conference, the research trip to Hungary which followed it, and the volume together represent the crowning achievement of the role of I Tatti as "a bridge between Hungary and Florence in the world of humanistic scholarship for three decades" - as emphasized by director Joseph Connors in the Foreword.

It also has to be pointed out that in 2008, an entire series of exhibitions and events were organized in Hungary in the framework of the so-called Renaissance Year. Three exhibitions, in particular, have to be mentioned here: the Budapest History Museum organized a large international exhibition dedicated to the rule of King Matthias in Hungary. Titled Matthias Corvinus, the King, the exhibition was accompanied by a large catalogue, also edited by Péter Farbaky with Enikő Spekner, Katalon Szende and András Végh (published in an English version as well). A large number of the participants of the 2007 Villa I Tatti conference also contributed to this catalogue - where naturally actual physical objects are in focus. The two publications thus nicely complement each other. Two smaller exhibitions focused on more special topics: the exhibition at the National Széchényi Library, titled  A Star in the Raven's Shadow, was dedicated to János Vitéz, archbishop of Esztergom, and the beginnings of Hungarian Humanism in the middle of the 15th century. The exhibition of the Museum of Applied Arts - The Dowry of Beatrice - examined the origins of Italian majolica at the court of King Matthias, focusing on the magnificent Corvinus-plates made in Pesaro. (To get the English-language catalogues, search for item nos. 58713 and 113069 at www.artbooks.com).

Temperance,
15th c. fresco at the Palace of Esztergom

However, the conference organized at I Tatti  was the event met with most extensive response. This was largely due to two of the the papers presented at the conference and a press conference held by the Hungarian Cultural Minister in Rome, announcing the findings of these two papers. At the conference, Zsuzsanna Wierdl and Mária Prokopp presented their theory concerning one of the 15th century frescoes at the castle of Esztergom, attributing it to the young Botticelli - a subject I have written about elsewhere on this blog.

Naturally, there is much more to the book than these sensational claims. The volume makes the lectures presented at the conference available in an edited format. The description of the book at the Harvard University Press website gives a good overview of its main topic:





Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New medieval art websites VI.

A number of very useful online image databases have been launched recently, dedicated to late medieval / northern Renaissance painting. Also, access to digitized medieval manuscripts is getting more and more easy. Here is a selection - the following descriptions are based on texts given on the websites themselves.

Museum Mayer van den Berg
 Antwerp 

Flemish primitives - This website was created by the association of Flemish art museums, The Flemish Art Collection, and so is a collaborative project of Belgian museums in Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. The goal is to present a website that is a reference point for the painted arts in the Burgundian Netherlands in the 15th century and early-16th century. Visitors can search paintings from Flemish museums or follow thematic collection presentations. It seems that over 400 paintings are available in the database now - I hope that image management and viewing options will improve later on.







Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 
A lot more information and much more images are provided by the newly launched Cranach Digital Archive (cda). This is "an interdisciplinary collaborative research resource, providing access to art historical, technical and conservation information on paintings by Lucas Cranach (c.1472 - 1553) and his workshop. The repository presently provides information on more than 400 paintings including c.5000 images and documents from 19 partner institutions." The Cranach Digital Archive is a joint initiative of the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf and Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences / Cologne University of Applied Sciences, with several partner institutions. It is highly recommended (via 1100sor).




University of Pennsylvania 

More and more medieval manuscripts are also being made available online. Last Fall, the University of Pennsylvania finished the digitization of their manuscripts collections, making the books (including over a thousand medieval and renaissance manuscripts) available at the Penn in Hand website. The University of Chicago is providing online access to the Goodspeed manuscript collection, comprising 68 early Greek, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Arabic, and Latin manuscripts ranging in date from the 5th to the 19th centuries. Yale (Beinecke Library) and Harvard (Houghton Library) have been providing access to their early codices for quite some time now. Meanwhile, it has been announced that the union catalogue of medieval manuscripts in America is returning to the University of California, Berkeley. It is now at the url: http://www.digital-scriptorium.org







Hungarian Academy of Sciences 
While we are on the subject of manuscripts, I would like to call attention to a special resource from Hungary (it is not new, but perhaps not too many people know about it). It is the Kaufmann-collection of medieval Hebrew manuscripts in the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The website provides an introductory study on the collector, Dávid Kaufmann and his collection, and the complete facsimile of five manuscripts. All of this is available in Hungarian, English and even Spanish. The manuscripts include the famous Kaufmann-Haggadah, originating from 14th century Catalonia, which has already been published in a print facsimile.






Saturday, December 03, 2011

Library of Medieval and Renaissance art in Transylvania

Rather than being a proper post, this is more like a collection of links - links to full-length books on medieval and Renaissance art in Transylvania. New databases, especially the Transylvanian Hungarian database maintained by transindex.ro and the newly opened Transylvanian Digital Database of the Transylvanian Museum Society, have made a number of old and new publications available, which - together with other resources - provide a good overview of art historical research in Transylvania. As most of these publications are in Hungarian, the following links will be mainly of use to my Hungarian readers - but others may find something useful as well (as some publications are in English or German). The focus of these publications is architecture, but a few other things are also available online. I'd be glad to add more resources to these - let me know if you've spotted something relevant!


I. Historical overview

History of Transylvania, ed. by László Makkai and András Mócsy, General Editor: Béla Köpeczi
Volume I. - From the Beginnings to 1606. English edition from 2001.

István Lázár: Transylvania - A Short History. 1997


II. Period of Hungarian Conquest

Gyula László: A honfoglaló magyarok művészete Erdélyben. Kolozsvár, 1943.
Art of the Hungarians at the Conquest period in Transylvania


III. Romanesque architecture

Géza Entz: Erdély építészete a 11-13. században. Kolozsvár, 1994.
Monograph and database on architecture in Transylvania in the 11-13th centuries.

Géza Entz: A gyulafehérvári székesegyház. Budapest, 1958
Monograph on the cathedral of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia).
Monograph on archaeological research at Gyulafehérvár.



IV. Gothic architecture
Géza Entz: Erdély építészete a 14–16. században. Kolozsvár, 1996.
Monograph and database on architecture in Transylvania in the 14-16th centuries.

Database of medieval churches in Transylvania.

Victor Roth: Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Siebenbürgens, 1914

Edit Grandpierre: A kolozsvári Szent Mihály templom története és építészete. Kolozsvár, 1936.
Study on St. Michael's church in Kolozsvár (Cluj).

Géza Entz: Dési református templom (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1942.
The church of Dés (Dej).

Géza Entz: Szolnok-Doboka középkori műemlékei (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1943.
Medieval monuments in Szolnok-Doboka county.

Géza Entz: A középkori székely művészet kérdései (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1943.
Study on medieval art in the Szekler territories. 

József K. Sebestyén: A középkori nyugati műveltség legkeletibb határai (link 2). Kolozsvár, 1929.
Study on medieval art in the Szekler territories. 

József Köpeczi Sebestyén: A brassai fekete templom Mátyás-kori címerei. Kolozsvár, 1927.
Coat of arms at the Black Church of Brassó (Brasov).

László Dávid: A középkori Udvarhelyszék művészeti emlékei. Bukarest, 1981.
Monograph on medieval monuments of Udvarhely county.

András Sófalvi: Székelyföld középkori várai. In: Castrum 3, 2006.
Study on medieval castles in the Szekler territories.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hungarian silver from Heller collection on view in MAK Frankfurt

Lidded jug, 1605. Nagyszeben (Hermannstadt / Sibiu) 
© Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt 
Since earlier this year, the gold and silver collection of István Heller has been on view at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt. István Heller has amassed an exquisite private collection of European goldsmith works, which had been shown at previous exhibitions and was published in several volumes by Hirmer Verlag. After a succesful career in medicine, Heller trained as an art historian late in his life, and at a mature age successfully submitted a thesis for a doctorate in the history of art - he is also the author of the books introducing his collection. István Heller has decided to make his collection accessible to the public through a permanent partnership with the Kunstgewerbeverein in Frankfurt am Main, thus the collection will have a place at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt in perpetuity. A total of 615 objects were placed in the Museum.

The Heller collection contains high-quality gold and silver objects, ranging in time from the mid-sixteenth century to the twentieth, largely from Central European centers of goldsmith art. All the important German centers of gold work are represented, as well as – for biographical reasons – those of Hungary and Transylvania. One of the four volumes mentioned above was dedicated to goldsmith objects from this territory in the collection. In the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt, this magnificent collection will be permanently housed in a room of its own in the Historische Villa Metzler. The tasteful exhibition setting allows the visitor to trace the principles of ornamental design from the Renaissance to Art Nouveau.

Flask with lid, 1670. Neusohl 
(Besztercebány / Banská Bystrica)
© Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt

This text and the images are based on the press release issued by the MAK Frankfurt (and also available in German). You can find an image gallery at hr-online.de.

If you are interested in such collection of gold and silver, you may want to read my earlier posts about the recent sale of Hungarian and Transylvanian goldsmith objects from the Herzog collection, or about the goldsmith objects which entered the Metropolitan Museum last year from the Salgó collection (see also part II and part III).

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Siklós castle

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Siklós, late Gothic balconySiklós, late Gothic balcony

Siklós castle, a set on Flickr.
As an addition to my most recent post, here are some photos of Siklós castle. These photos were mainly taken in 2007, thus before and during the current restoration campaign. I hope I will be able to share new photographs soon, too.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Research and renovation at Siklós castle

The medieval castle of Siklós reopened after years of research and renovation. The castle lies in southern Hungary (just south of Pécs). For much of the 15th century (until 1481), the castle and the large estate was in the property of the mighty Garai family - even king Sigismund was held captive here at the beginning of his Hungarian rule, in 1401. The general layout of the castle stems from this period, but it was enlarged and rebuilt in several later phases. Most significant of these campaigns was the addition of a large late Gothic sanctuary to the castle chapel, built in the second decade of the 16th century, at the time of the Perényi family. Although the castle was occupied by the Turks for almost 150 years, and was rebuilt after that in Baroque style, it still preserves a lot of significant medieval and Renaissance details (see these photos). A large new exhibition hall was created during this most recent reconstruction, which enable the display of these fragments.

The reconstruction was preceded by several years of archaeological and architectural research, which brought to light many interesting finds, including a previously unknown small and painted wall niche. I hope to report on these finds in more detail soon - I am planning a trip to Siklós some time soon, and maybe a guest post can be organized with one of the archaeologists. For now, here is a photo of one of the frescoes in the castle chapel, discovered during a previous restorations campaign in the 1950s.

St. Ladislas and St. Leonard - Fresco c. 1420, in the castle chapel of Siklós
Photo by Attila Mudrák 
Siklós of course preserves many other treasures. I would only like to mention the former Augustinian church standing in the vicinity of the castle, which was decorated with an extensive fresco cycle at the beginning of the 15th century, commissioned by the Garai family. I have written extensively on these frescoes elsewhere - you may want to look at this Hungarian-language article with and English summary. For even more information, you can have a look at my dissertation (especially if you are based at any American institution with UMI/Proquest access...).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The secret of the casket

Photos by Melange Galéria, Budapest 
A small Italian Renaissance casket went on display earlier this month in a Budapest gallery. The display was opened by Mária Prokopp, university professor and a noted expert of Italian Renaissance painting. So far not much is known about the intriguing object, the website of the gallery only says this much about it:
"This is the first public appearance of this precious Renaissance casket, which had been serving as a medicine case in the household of an elderly lady for the last 30 years."


The small casket (about 50 cm wide) is decorated with a well-composed Renaissance painting on the front, and two coat of arms on the shorter sides. The main scene seems to be some kind of triumphal or marriage procession - and is in very bad condition. Some small areas have already been cleaned, to reveal the original bright colors. The details are very fine, like in a manuscript illumination. The coats of arms on the sides seem rather general - an eagle and a lion. On the back side, there is an inscription fitting for the object, which reads: "Quod ut custoditorum me nemo sciat" (No-one shall know what is guarded by me).

It is clear that the casket is in need of restoration and detailed examination. It is hard to say more about it, until that happens. A series of photographs can be seen on the website of the gallery, plus here is a detail of the painting from the front of the casket. Renaissance experts - feel free to comment!




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