Showing posts with label exhibition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhibition. Show all posts

Sunday, November 09, 2014

New medieval exhibition at the Hungarian National Gallery


Maria gravida, Vienna, 1409
see in high resolution 
I haven't had time to upload anything here for over a month - but a lot has happened in Hungary in the field of medieval art. I will try to catch up with a series of brief posts. First, I would like to report on the new medieval exhibition of the Hungarian National Gallery, which was completely reinstalled and opened at the end of September. This part of the permanent exhibition focuses on painting and sculpture from Hungary and neighboring areas in the 14th and 15th centuries. Some of the highlights of the collection can be seen here, including two statues of the Virgin of Child from Toporc, the two beautiful statues of female saints from Barka, or a painting originally showing the St. Joseph's Doubt (now cut down to only show the Virgin, see left). The exhibition was reinstalled to focus on the original liturgical context of these artworks, and therefore also includes a number of other liturgical objects - mainly goldsmith works on loan from the Hungarian National Museum. The new exhibition presents the material in a chronological-regional arrangement. The last section includes several complete altarpieces, thereby preparing the visitor for the next section of the permanent exhibition, where the monumental late Gothic altarpieces can be seen. That section has also been slightly rearranged recently, with the new installation of the main altar from Kisszeben.

The new exhibition, which provides a greatly improved space for the objects and a clear narrative for visitors, is definitely a must-see for anyone interested in medieval art. Organized by curator Györgyi Poszler, the exhibition also includes a number of works previously never shown, This was made possible by the continuous work of restorers during the last few decades. Readers familiar with Hungarian are encouraged to consult a new publication by the Hungarian National Gallery, which is dedicated to the most important restorations carried out between 1957-2011. The publication is available online from this link. In addition, you can see selected objects from this part of the collection on the website of the Hungarian National Gallery. The exhibition of Renaissance stone carvings (the area of which was unfortunately partially taken over by the museum shop) was also reinstalled - but the medieval stone carvings are still not on view (following the theft three years ago).

Here are some images of the new exhibition, provided by the Hungarian National Gallery.








Thursday, September 18, 2014

Permanent exhibition of 9-10th Hungary opens at Hungarian National Museum

Dress ornament from Zalavár (Photo: Hungarian National Museum)
A new, long-missing section of the permanent archaeological and historical exhibition of the Hungarian National Museum opened yesterday. The exhibition - which is the continuation of the rooms dedicated to the history of Hungary from prehistory to the Migration period - is focusing on Hungary during the 9th and 10th centuries, and consists of two parts. The first part is dedicated to the 9th century, especially to the western, Transdanubian region - the area of the Roman province of Pannonia - which was part of the Carolingian empire. The exhibition displays for the first time a large selection of the sensational discoveries made at the Zalavár excavations. Finds from the churches and palaces of this important late Carolingian center - including some of the oldest stained glass fragments from Europe, as well as a complete bell foundry - make up perhaps the most interesting part of the new exhibition. The second part contains objects from the period of the Hungarian (Magyar) Conquest of the Carpathian basin, and finds from the 10th century, the period before the formal establishment of the Christian Kingdom of Hungary.

Ornamental discs from the Hungarian Conquest period (Photo: Hungarian National Museum)

Taken together with the preceding part of the exhibition, this is the largest archaeological exhibition in Hungary, and one which is also quite informative and well-installed. Monitors with 3D-reconstructions and other interactive elements make the exhibition even more interesting for younger visitors as well. Ágnes Ritoók of the Hungarian National Museum acted as chief curator of the project, coordinating the work of two teams. This new exhibition is accompanied by two separate publications: one, written by Béla Miklós Szőke, is dedicated to Zalavár and the Carolingian period in Hungary, the other - the work of László Révész - is about the Conquest period. Both books were also published in English - so you can expect to read more about them on this blog soon.

Cap ornament from Beregszász (Photo: Hungarian National Museum)

The website of the National Museum has some technical problems, so I am linking here to the Facebook page of the Museum. The photos in this post come from there.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New exhibitions at Pannonhalma

For several decades now, the Benedictine Archabbey at Pannonhalma has also served as an important exhibition venue. Perhaps most memorable for medievalists was the 2001 exhibition dedicated to Benedictines in Medieval Hungary, and titled Paradisum plantavit. For a long time, there has been a permenant exhibition space in the abbey as well, but only a very small part of the abbey's collection was on view. This year, a new abbey museum and visitor center opened at Pannonhalma, in the former manor building belonging to the abbey. This museum is the home of a new permanent exhibition of the abbey, and includes an exhibition of medieval stone carvings from Pannonhalma, as well as a good selection from the collections of the abbey. The new space created an opportunity to display some elements of the medieval building which were previously not visible, such as elements from the 13th century cloisters of the abbey (which was rebuilt in the late 15th century). The collections of the abbey include goldsmith works, important manuscripts, a good ensemble of paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects, among other artworks. The new exhibition was arranged by Imre Takács, noted medieval art historian and the curator of major exhibition at Pannonhalma in 1996 and 2001. This collection can be browsed online as well - in a database which at the moment seems to be available only in Hungarian.

Stone carvings from Pannonhalma at the new museum

Fragments of the 13th century cloister

In 2014, visitors also get a chance to visit two intertwined exhibitions. Since March 2014 the exhibition Icons and Relics: Veneration of Images between East and West (March 21 – November 11,2014) can be visited in the in the “old” exhibition hall of the monastery. Another exhibition opened in July in the newly opened Abbey Manor Visitor Centre and Museum. Titled Image and Christianity: Visual Media in the Middle Ages (July 10 – November 11, 2014), which focuses on western European liturgical art. To cite the curator, Péter Bokody: "The aim of the exhibitions is to show to the viewer the various forms and media of image-worship in medieval Christianity. The exhibition Icons and Relics presents the intertwined history of image-worship in the East and West through a comparison of the cult of images and the cult of relics, together with the genesis of the painted panel. The exhibition Image and Christianity focuses on the same development from the perspective of the visual media in the Middle Ages, where the spread of the painted panel in the West is interpreted in the context of mosaics, stained glass, murals and book illumination. The point of intersection between the two is the Latin Sack of Constantinople in 1204, since both the intensified forms of image-worship and the visual medium of the painted panel became central in Western Christianity after that."

The exhibition "Icons and relics"

Glimpse into the exhibition "Image and Christianity"
In addition to important loans from the major museums of Hungary, the exhibitions also features a number of international loans (primarily from Austria and Croatia), providing a nice overview medieval artworks in the service of liturgy. The highlights of the exhibition Icons and Relics are the 12th century head reliquary of Saint Coloman (Benedictine Abbey, Melk), and 14th century reliquaries from Zadar. In the exhibition Image and Christianity the various medieval visual media are presented by 12th century mosaics (Museo Torcello, Torcello), 15th century stained glass windows (Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz), 14th century fresco fragments (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest), 15th century painted panels (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest), and 11th-15th century codices, as well as ivory carvings and other works. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Treasury of Gyöngyös parish church opens to public

The Treasury of the medieval parish church of Gyöngyös, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, reopened for visitor at the beginning of July. The Treasury - one of the richest in Hungary, after the treasuries at Esztergom and Győr cathedrals - has important medieval holdings as well. Most important in this respect are the seven late medieval chalices made around 1500, probably in a workshop in Upper Hungary, all decorated with a special filigree ornament.

The recent history of the treasury is quite interesting: the treasures were hidden in 1944, and were only recovered in 1967. The objects were later put on display, but a number of them got stolen in 2012. These five Baroque objects were soon recovered by the police, but unfortunately, in a dismembered state. However, as of now, all of the objects are on view in the newly created exhibition room in the parish building, the so-called Szent Korona House. In addition to the chalices, the Treasury also includes a number of other medieval objects, as well as a large number of Baroque liturgical objects, including reliquiaries, monstrances and church vestments. A number of paintings, sculptures and a significant library round out the collection. Visitors can also see two specialised conservation workshops (for goldsmith works and for textiles). More information can be found on the new website of the parish (which is still being developed). You can also read more about the recent history of the treasures in this article (in Hungarian).










Source of images: here and here.

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 




Sunday, March 02, 2014

Gallery of Medieval Art at the National Museum in Warsaw

Photo: MNW





















The National Museum in Warsaw (MNW) has one of the largest collections of medieval art in the region, which has been on view in a new installation since the end of last year (the gallery opened on December 11, 2013). Last week I finally had a chance to spend again a few days in Warsaw, and went to see the exhibition. Then I went back for a more detailed look - there is so much to see that one visit is definitely not enough. The exhibition is located on the ground floor of the museum, and takes up about 800 square meters in three large halls. These rooms are full of the best of late medieval art from the territory of modern Poland, while also include a few other works from other parts of Europe.

The altarpiece from Grudziadz
The first room provides a rather dramatic entry for the entire exhibition. It is a wide hall, where two lines of statues divide the room as if in a three-aisled church, and at the center, directly opposite the entrance is one of the largest altarpieces in the museum. The dark environment contributes to the church-like feel of the hall. This first room displays the earliest works in the collection, including Romanesque sculpture, as well as what is called  the Inter-regional Art of Northern Europe in the 14th-15th centuries. There are a number of French and German statues here, but the most important works come from the territory of Silesia - which at the time was a possession of the Crown of Bohemia. The international connections are also illustrated by such works as the carving of Three Marys from a Crucifixion-group, carved in alabaster by the Rimini Master, and coming from a church in Wroclaw.
Beautiful Madonna from Wroclaw
 Among a number of late Gothic statues stemming from Wroclaw (Breslau), one can also admire the famous Beautiful Madonna from Wroclaw - made either there or in Bohemia at the end of the 14th century. The large altarpiece in the center of the arrangement comes from Grudziadz (Graudenz) in Pomerania, from a chapel of the Teutonic Knights. It is one of the most refined painted altarpieces of the International Gothic Style, dating from 1390 (or maybe somewhat later). The installation enables one to study all the paintings on the altarpiece, including the Passion-scenes of the first opened stage of the altar, and the Life of the Virgin scenes on the fully opened altar. Other works in the room - originating from Gdansk (Danzig) round out the rich demonstration of the International Gothic.

The next section of the exhibition (in the second, long exhibition gallery) focuses on Wroclaw and Silesia at the middle of the 15th century, with the St. Barbara Altarpiece from 1447 as the main work here. Proceeding chronologically, the next highlight is the Polyptych of the Annunciation with the Unicorn, a wlarge altarpiece from around 1480. As the visitor turns and enters the third long room, artworks from Silesia dating from the the decades around 1500 can be studied, among them the unpainted limewood relief of St. Luke Painting the Virgin by Jakob Beinhart. This sophisticated carving, based on a woodcut by Veit Stoss, demonstrates the very high level of artistic achievement in Wroclaw at the end of the 15th century.





St. Luke Painting the Virgin, by Jakob Beinhart

Monday, November 11, 2013

Altarpiece by The Master of Lichtenstein Castle reunited in Vienna

Crowning of thorns, detail.
Esztergom, Christian Museum 
The Belvedere Museum in Vienna is presenting the exhibition Vienna 1450 - The Master of Lichtenstein Castle and his Time, in the Orangerie. The Belvedere is the first museum to devote an exhibition to this outstanding Vienna-based artist who was given the invented name Master of Lichtenstein Castle – a great anonymous painter who numbered among the most important Central European artists of his generation. As the Belvedere website informs: "The precious panels by the Master of Lichtenstein Castle are now reunited for the first time and displayed in the context of important comparable works from international collections. The unidentified painter went down in the annals of art history as the Master of Lichtenstein Castle, named after the knight’s castle near Reutlingen in Baden-Württemberg. The presentation of two monumental altar panels, which in the mid-nineteenth century ended up in Lichtenstein Castle, built by Count William of Württemberg and accommodating a rich art collection, rapidly contributed to the fame of the works. Since then, the œuvre of the great anonymous painter has grown to the impressive number of 23 panels, which were literally torn apart and widely dispersed before 1825, so that the knowledge about their original context got lost. Preserving as many as six panels, the Belvedere now owns the largest holdings of works by this master. The exhibition VIENNA 1450 - The Master of Lichtenstein Castle and his Time is the first effort to reunite the precious panels from Lichtenstein Castle and museums in Augsburg, Basel, Esztergom, Moscow, Munich, Philadelphia, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Vienna, and Warsaw and introduce a documentation of the reconstructed altar."

The exhibition is on view at the Belvedere until February 23, 2014, and is accompanied by a catalogue.

The exhibition also includes two panels of the anonymous master, preserved at the Christian Museum in Esztergom: The Flagellation and the Crowning of Thorns. The images are not available on the website of the museum, so the links will take you to Europeana, where the images are available via the Institut für Realienkunde. You can also find a few other pictures of the Master via Europeana. The six panels in the Belvedere collection are available in the Digitales Belvedere database. I am looking forward to seeing them all together in Vienna!

Photo: Belvedere

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.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Exhibition Dedicated to Queen Gertrude


The Ferenczy Museum in Szentendre has recently moved into a new building in the center of the town, and this week an interesting temporary exhibition opened there. The focus of this exhibition is the royal Cistercian abbey of Pilis, as well as Queen Gertrude, wife of King Andrew II, who was buried there after she had been murdered 800 years ago. Stone carvings and archaeological finds from the monastery excavated at the site of the ruined monastery are preserved in the museum's collection. 

The exhibition, titled „THE QUEEN TO KILL YOU MUST NOT FEAR WILL BE GOOD...“ Commemorate Gertrude of Merania, 1213-2013 is on view at the Barcsay Room of the Ferenczy Museum until December 31, 2013.






Dr. Judit Majorossy, the curator of the exhibition and Head of Research at the Ferenczy Museum provided the following text for the Medieval Hungary blog. This guest post is illustrated by photos of the exhibition, also provided by the museum.


"In the Middle Ages queens were particularly suitable for considering them as instigators of evil, not only due to their gender but also due to their often foreign origin. If there was discontent against the government, often not the kings were blamed but the bad consultants and, in this respect, queens were believed the most influential above all. In addition, if some queens exceeded their charity role by their husbands and behaved as active, strong women, they frequently became scapegoats. Most of the accusations of tyranny and nepotism can be attributed to their usurpation of male roles."

There were very few events in the course of medieval Hungarian history before the Mongol invasion (1241/1242) that triggered such a big stir in the contemporary European historiography as the murder of Gertrude of (Andechs-) Merania, the first wife of King Andrew II (1205–1235) from the Arpad dynasty. In the light of the present state of research the story of this infamous assassination seems to be clarified, but on the other hand, it is rather still complex.

Gertrude was killed on the 28th of September 1213 in an aristocratic conspiracy, after being the Queen of Hungary for ten years. She came to Hungary as a member of an ambitious Bavarian princely family. Behind the unpopularity of this dominant royal wife in Hungary one might suppose the political headway and influence of the German courtiers in her environment (the usual entourage of a foreign royal consort) that weakened the power of the domestic dignitaries. As a consequence, some noble Hungarians – Reeve Peter the son of Turoy, Simon of the Kacsics clan, and Simon of the Bar-Kalan clan, the son-in-law of the former palatine Banc ban – taking advantage of the ruler's absence being on a campaign in Halychya (the historical Galicia on the territory of present day Ukraine and Poland) and attacked the queen and her retinue supposedly in the royal Pilis forests during a festive hunting. Gertrude was brutally murdered, while her brother Berthold, archbishop of Kalocsa (1207–1218) and a special guest, Leopold VI, Duke of Austria (1198–1230) could hardly escape.


In the light of the contemporary sources, the real motives of this cruel act are unclear and contradictory. In addition, these motives were over-explained in the later Hungarian national history writing and romantic xenophobia. The accusation against Gertrude of helping the violation of Banc ban’s wife by her brother might be a few-decade later popular explanation of the events that was then carried on, while Gertrude’s responsibility for the inner courtly conflicts or the image of a weak-handed Andrew II must be re-evaluated and shaded.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Europa Jagellonica - Exhibiting the Heritage of the Jagiellonian Era



The Europa Jagellonica exhibition has recently finished its run, closing at the third venue, in Potsdam. I had a chance to see the show in Kutná Hora, as well as in Warsaw, and have seen all the publications accompanying it. In the following, I will provide a brief overview and review of this major European project.
As the website of the project informs, the international exhibition EUROPA JAGELLONICA is a joint Czech-Polish-German project and the first exhibition on the European dynasty of the Jagiellonians during the period around 1500, which was of great significance for Europe.

This project has been in the making for a long time. Organized by the Centre for History and Culture of East Central Europe at the University of Leipzig (GWZO), the basis for this project was the interdisciplinary and international research project, "The Significance of the Jagiellonian Dynasty in Art and Culture of Central Europe 1454–1572", which was carried out from 2000 to 2005. Dr. Jiří Fajt (GWZO) is the chief curator of the project, and Dr. Susanne Jaeger (GWZO) is responsible for the coordination. After several unsuccessful attempts, the exhibition finally got the green light as well as European funds, and was realized together by the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. Hungary - which was originally supposed to have been part of project - did not become an organizing partner and a venue in the end, but contributed several loans to the exhibition.
Detail of the exhibition at Kutná Hora
The exhibition is quite different at all three venues. Even in the planning phase, it was decided that each venue will have a special focus: in Kutná Hora it was silver mining and economic history, in Warsaw the significance of the Jagellonians for Poland, while in Potsdam, the local theme is the marriage policy of the dynasty, and contacts with the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, there are other changes of thematic focus from venue to venue, as well as somewhat different sets of objects. The Jagiellonian period in focus of the exhibition is summarized by the organizers: 
"The time frame covered by the exhibition starts with the coronation of Jogaila (Władysław Jagiełło) in 1386 as King of Poland. Thanks to prudent political alliances, the Jagiellons ascended to the thrones of Bohemia and Silesia in 1471 and of Hungary in 1490. The resulting commonwealth of nations – Europa Jagellonica – spanned vast territories with a total area surpassing two million square kilometres, from the Baltic to the Black and Adriatic Seas. At the same time, strategic marital unions arranged for Polish princesses expanded the family’s influence to include the Reich states – Brandenburg, Braunschweig, Bavaria and Saxony. This unique amalgamation in Central Europe left its mark on not only the political atmosphere there but on the economies of the individual nations, the intellectual culture and social mentality of the day, and the arts. [The exhibition] will highlight the period’s unique circumstance of cultural diversity amidst unity – the coexistence of regional cultures and the formation of a common tradition. From such a perspective, the old Jagiellonian commonwealth becomes a fascinating reference point for reflections on modern times."

Further information about the project is available at several sites, first of all on the website of GWZO. Various flyers of the exhibition - including one in English - are available online from here. The original central websites of the project - www.europajagellonica.com and www.europajagellonica.eu - are no longer online, however, the www.europajagellonica.de provides information on the project. The websites of the various venues also provide information and photos of the exhibition: GASK in Kutná Hora, the Royal Castle and the National Museum (MNW) in Warsaw and the Haus der Brandenburgisch-Preußischen Geschichte in Potsdam all have some information.

Kutná Hora exhibition


The exhibition was the most complete in Kutná Hora. Organized at a perfect venue, the Gallery of the Central Bohemian district (GASK), located in the former Jesuit monastery right next to the church of St. Barbara, the whole town was in effect part of the exhibition. The newly renovated building provided a great location for the exhibition, and it was comfortable to walk through the exhibition. The full list of the sections of the exhibition were unfolded here, which was easy to follow - although contained a few repetitions in my opinion.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Upcoming medieval exhibitions

In this brief post I would like to call attention to two upcoming exhibitions relevant for the art of medieval Hungary. The exhibitions will focus on the two most important rulers of 15th century Hungary: King Sigismund and King Matthias. There is still plenty of time to make plans to see these exhibitions! More information will be posted here as it becomes available.

Matthias Corvinus and Florence. Art and Humanism at the Court of the King of Hungary
Firenze, Museo di San Marco, 10 October 2013 - 6 January 2014

Marliano, Epithalamium, Milano, 1487
Volterra, Biblioteca Guarnacci, Cod. lat. 5518
The Museo di San Marco will host an exhibition entitled Matthias Corvinus and Florence. Art and Humanism at the Court of the King of Hungary, focusing on the splendid period of 15th century Humanism at the court of Buda and on the powerful personality of King Matthias Corvinus, a keen lover of books and patron of the arts who was a personal friend of Lorenzo the Magnificent and who sourced his illuminated codices in Florence. The exhibition also investigates the many Florentines who flocked to Hungary, such as the mysterious "fat woodcutter" lampooned by Brunelleschi or mercenary captain Pippo Spano, and helped to strengthen the ties between the two Renaissance centres.
The aim of this exhibition is to develop the theme of the relationship that King Matthias Corvinus established with Florence and its artists, its illuminators and indeed with the entire cultural circle of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The exhibition sets out to reconstruct some of the contacts that played a crucial role in determining the Hungarian court's cultural and artistic choices. Thus it will illustrate 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 will be devoted to the libraries of Matthias Corvinus and of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and thus pride of place will be given to the precious illuminated codices commissioned by Matthias Corvinus for his library, now sadly dispersed.
The exhibition and the catalogue are curated by Magnolia Scudieri, Lia Brunori, Péter Farbaky, and Dániel Pócs.

More information is available in English or in Italian(summary taken from the Un anno ad Arte 2013 website)



The Council of Constance. 1414 – 1418. A Medieval World Event
Konstanz, Konzil, 27 April - 21 September 2014



From 2014 to 2018, the town of Constance celebrates the 600th anniversary of the Council of Constance, and invites Europe to Lake Constance again. The main event of the celebrations will be a Landesaustellung organized by the Badisches Landesmuseum of Karlsruhe and held at the Konzilgebäude (Council building) in Constance - the actual site of the Council meetings 600 years ago. Major works of Western art and civilisation from the time around 1400/20 and from the great museums of Europe will be on view at Constance. The fifteenth-century world event will come to life again, tangible in its historical significance and potency. The key figure of the Council was Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary and King of the Romans: a brilliant diplomat who managed to keep the entire western world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caucasus, together until the Council could be successfully concluded. The exhibition will naturally showcase a number of important works connected to his personality, and will also feature and important selection of objects from Hungary.
The project leader of the exhibition is dr. Karin Stober.

A website has been set up for the series of events during the next four years, and also for the exhibition itself.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Exhibition on medieval Croatia at Musée de Cluny

Following an exhibition on the territory of Slovakia in the Middle Ages (D'or et de feu, 2010), as well as an exhibition at the sister museum of Musée de Cluny, the Musée national de la Renaissance at the Château d'Ecouen on Renaissance in Croatia, the Musée national du Moyen Âge now presents an exhibition on Croatia in the Middle Ages.

Starting from 1102, the kingdom of Croatia lost its sovereignty and was ruled throughout the Middle Ages and later in the form of a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary. The northern part of present-day Croatia, Slavonia, was part of Hungary proper, while the region of Dalmatia often changed hands between Venice and Hungary. At the time of king Louis the Great, Hungarian power was restored in Dalmatia in 1358 by the Treaty of Zadar. History and art in the territory of Croatia is thus inseparably connected to the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, evidenced by various works in the treasuries of Croatia originating from the centers of the Kingdom, including royal gifts - such as the series of treasures donated to Zara/Zadar by Louis the Great and his wife, Elisabeth. The object selected for the poster of the exhibition - the 14th century mitre from the Treasury of Zagreb cathedral is just such an object, likely donated to the cathedral by Louis the Great. However, it is still not entirely sure, whether this precious work - reworked in 1549 - was originally made in Hungary or Venice. Restored during 2005, the object was also shown in the 2006 exhibition dedicated to King and Emperor Sigismund, the successor of Louis the Great.

Mitre from the Treasury of Zagreb cathedral, 14th century 


The present exhibition features about 40 select works of art, including reliquaries, illuminated manuscripts, warrior equipment, and jewellery. It was organised as part of an ongoing Croatian festival in France, called "Croatie, la voici", which runs from September 2012 to January 2013. The festival is the result of a Croatian-French strategic partnership signed in 2010 by the presidents of the two countries, and the exhibition was also opened by the presidents. The exhibition, titled "Et ils s’émerveillèrent…" - Croatie médiévale opened on.October 10, and will remain on view until January 7, 2013. The exhibition is accompanied by a small catalogue. You can read a little more on the exhibition in the official press release of the museum (pdf), or on the website of Croatian Tourism Office, but overall, very little is available on the exhibition online so far. A slideshow of the exhibition is available on the Flickr-site of the cultural festival, also embedded below.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Art around 1400 - Current exhibitions

In 2012, a number of exhibitions were dedicated to the period around 1400, the period of the International Gothic. Some of these are still open - in fact, one is about to open this week. These exhibitions each focus on one geographical area - but together they demonstrate the richness and variety of this extremely creative period of European art history. When we were preparing the Sigismundus-exhibition of 2006, originally we planned to show some true European highlights of this period - the period when Pisanello, Ghiberti, the young Donatello, Masolino and Massaccio, Claus Sluter, the Limbourg brothers or Robert Campin were all active - but works from this period are simply too fragile and precious to gather in one exhibition. However, if someone gets a chance to visit all the exhibitions listed below, he or she could get a very good impression of the main trends of the period.

Gentile da Fabriano: Adoration of the Magi, 1423 
Let us start with the exhibition still on view for a few weeks at The Uffizi in Florence (until November 4). The exhibition titled The Gleam of Gold - The International Gothic Style in Florence, 1375-1440, intends to reconstruct the panorama of Florentine art in the wonderful and crucial period that extended roughly from 1375 to 1440. The exhibition, set out in chronological order, starts with the work of the greatest artists working in the tradition of the late 14th century. Another section focuses on the achievements of Lorenzo Ghiberti, one of the leading players on the Late Gothic scene in Florence who, in the early part of his career, trained virtually all of the city's most important artists in his workshop for the first Baptistry door. The exhibition ends with Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano, on display for the first time since its recent restoration. The exhibition is part of the 'Un anno ad arte' series, which has a separate website, with photos of key works on view. You can also read an overview of the exhibition here and in the New York Times.


Bernard Martorell: Trial of St, George,
 1435

Earlier this year (from 29 March to 15 July 2012), the Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona held the exhibition Catalunya 1400 - The International Gothic Style. This was the first major exhibition on one of the most creative cycles in the history of Catalan art, around the turn of the 15th century. Beside great masterpieces by the most important Catalan artists of all time, the exhibition, showed the renewal of the miniature; presented the retable as the distinctive expression of Catalan painting; and it highlighted the importance of the arrival of European artists in Catalonia with the resulting French influence on Catalan culture. One of the stars of the exhibition were undoubtedly the the four panels with narrative scenes from the Retable of Saint George by Bernat Martorell, now in the Louvre. The exhibition includes at the same time a carefully chosen display of sculptures, items of precious metalwork and liturgical textiles.

You can get a PDF-format press overview of the exhibition here. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue.






Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Danube Bend in the Middle Ages - Exhibition

12th century stone carving from Vác cathedral
A new temporary exhibition opened last Saturday at Vác, dedicated to the medieval history of the region known as the Danube Bend. Stretching from Esztergom through Visegrád down to Szentendre, the area includes some of the most important medieval settlements of Hungary (towns located in the Medium regni, as the central part of the kingdom was known). The exhibition was organized by the Pest County Museum, centred in Szentendre, with the cooperation of other major museums of the region: the Balassa Bálint Museum of Esztergom and the King Matthias Museum of Visegrád. The exhibition is on view at Ignác Tragor Museum of Vác (in the former Greek Orthodox church), the museum of another major city in the region, located on the other side of the Danube. As the well-established system of Hungarian county museums is currently being completely shaken up and reorganized, the exhibition can be seen as an attempt to demonstrate the power of the old system - capable of cooperation, joint organization and the like. (Hungarian-speaking readers can read about the changes for example here - I could not find any English-language reports on this major reorganization).

Of the towns mentioned above, Esztergom was and is the seat of Hungary's primate archbishop and a former royal seat, Visegrád boasts a royal castle and a royal palace at the bottom of the hill, and Vác was (is) an important bishopric, while Szentendre was a small market-town along the Danube. Thus there is plenty of material to show in an exhibition dedicated to the region - the exhbition instead is adapted to the small exhibition space, and focuses mainly of recent archaeological finds. This include - among others - a Romanesque baptismal font recovered at Vác, as well as a fragment of the 15th century terracotta relief showing the Battle of Amazons, and attributed to Gregorio di Lorenzo (formerly known as the Master of the Marble Madonnas).

Relief fragment by Gregorio di Lorenzo, Vác
The exhibition will later also be shown at Szentendre, Visegrád and Esztergom. As the Esztergom Museum and of course the royal palace at Visegrád both have their significant medieval exhibitions, the present exhibition will clearly appear in a different light at future venues. I have not yet seen the exhibition, and I could find no information on the websites of any of the museums involved. (The invitation to the opening ceremony can be seen here).

The curator of the exhibition was Tibor Ákos Rácz, and was opened by Imre Takács, director of the Museum of Applied Arts, and a noted medieval art historian himself.

While we are on the subject of the Danube bend, I would like to mention related news as well. At the King Matthias Museum in Visegrád, visitors can see a temporary museum in addition to the permanent displays. Titled "Not without a trace...," the exhibition displays finds from the period of the Magyar Conquest, from the collection of the Pest County Museum. Star attractions of the show are recent finds from the vicinity of Bugyi - about which I reported earlier. The traveling exhibition is on view at Visegrád until October 28th.

Archaeologists of the Pest County Museum also had luck late this summer - the very low water level of the Danube enabled them to recover a medieval shipwreck in the Danube Bend. Discovery News reports on the find. Maybe objects from this boat can be incorporated in the next incarnation of the "Danube Bend in the Middle Ages" exhibition.