Showing posts with label non-medieval. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non-medieval. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Part of the Seuso Treasure Recovered by Hungary

Hungary unveiled today seven pieces of the famed Seuso-treasure, the most significant late Roman find of goldsmith works ever found in excavations. The seven decorated pitchers, platters and bowls were unveiled by prime minister Viktor Orbán today in the Parliament of Hungary. It was announced that this half of the treasure was recovered by Hungary at the cost 15 million euros ($20.67 million).

The objects were dug up near Lake Balaton (=Pelso) in western Hungary in the 1970s and then smuggled to the West and not seen in public until a 1990 auction in New York that failed because of a dispute over where they were found. The pieces were owned by Lord Northampton, who had purchased them between 1982 and 1990, but was unable to sell them because of the contested origin of the objects. Hungary has always claimed the treasure as its own.  Part of the treasure was, however sold by him, and the new owners - two people described only as "British siblings" - contacted Hungary with a view to making a sale, Hungarian officials said. "Hungary has reacquired and brought home seven pieces of the invaluable treasure," Orban said. "It has always belonged to Hungary. This is Hungary's family silver."

The treasure was named after a high-ranking Roman officer, Seuso, who probably buried his silver vessels before a military attack at the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th century. Today, 14 pieces of the treasure are known, but presumably more pieces were found originally. 

If you would like to know more about the treasure, I recommend this article by Zsolt Visy, one of the researchers working on the objects, or this study by Zsolt Mráv from a recent volume of studies. The English-language Wikipedia article has already been updated to include today's news. More publications are sure to appear now that at least part of the treasures will be accessible to researchers. The objects will remain on view at the Hungarian Parliament for the next three months - their future placement has not yet been disclosed.

(via Reuters).

More information is available on the website of the Government of Hungary. The Government website also published photos of the objects recovered by Hungary, these you can see below.









Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bethlen 400

Egidius Sadeler II: Gábor Bethlen, c. 1620
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the rule of Gábor Bethlen as Prince of Transylvania. To commemorate this, a series of events are being organized both in Hungary and Romania in the Bethlen Memorial Year. The following overview is given by the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

"400 years ago, on 23 October, 1613, Gabriel Bethlen (1580–1629), the most significant Prince of Transylvania ascended the throne. He had to take over a devastated country, empty treasury and desperate politicians due to the ill-considered policy of his immediate predecessor and the damages of the Long Turkish War (1593-1606). The existence of the Principality of Transylvania was restricted by the Turkish protectorate and threatened by the Habsburg Empire. The situation was even worsened by the political and economic crisis affecting all Europe. Gabriel Bethlen was able to get out of this seemingly hopeless situation with recognizing the possibilities lying just in these desperate circumstances. He created a new, effective team of politicians, a court of high European standards, and with brilliant organizing work he could stabilize the political and economic situation in Transylvania. He connected to the European diplomatic and military processes. He generated a powerful military force, and arranged the situation – having been unresolved for more than half a century – of the Székelys forming the main part of the army. His military actions coordinated with his allies were supplemented with his many-folded diplomatic activity. With his peace treaties he was able to enlarge the territory of the Principality of Transylvania, becoming part of the European alliance system with the Treaties of Hague and Westminster. He was elected and ceremonially acclaimed king of Hungary on 25 August 1620, but later he refused to be crowned which made it possible for him to come to an agreement with the Habsburg Monarch and to keep the Ottoman Empire from gaining more influence and from expanding in Transylvania. From then on, Transylvania became the main support for the political and cultural endeavors of Hungarian estates in the Habsburg Empire. The tolerant religious policy of the protestant ruler made Transylvania a host country again. He provided the training of “up-to-date” intellectuals with founding schools and university scholarships. His multifaceted activity served as inspiration for generations from his age on through the centuries."

I would like to call attention to a few exhibitions and events of the Bethlen Memorial Year.

An exhibition on Gábor Bethlen and his era is currently on view at the Hungarian National Archives.



Opening next month (on view November 12, 2013 - February 2, 2014) is the main exhibition of the memorial year at the Hungarian National Museum. Titled Bethlen 1613, the exhibition is organized together with the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Coming up this week is the international conference Gábor Bethlen and Europe, at Kolozsvár / Cluj (October 24-26, 2013). More information on the website of the organizers, the Transylvanian Museum Society and the Hungarian Historical Institute of the Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj.




Bonus:  In May 2013, an episode of the PBS-program Antiques Roadshow featured an exceptionally rare object, a diamond marriage pendant associated with the wedding of Gábor Bethlen and Catherine of Brandenburg (1626). The object is part of a series, last seen together at the 1884 exhibition of goldsmith works held in Budapest. One pendant of the series is at the Hungarian National Museum, while another similar object is in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest. (via the Institute of History)
You can read about these jewels in the journal of the museum, Ars Decorativa (vol. 24).

Marriage pendant shown in Antiques Roadshow, source: pbs.org


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).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hungarian silver on sale in NYC

Nautilus cup
Nagyszeben, mid-17th century 

About 30 precious silver and goldsmith works from Hungary and Transylvania will be auctioned off at Christie's New York tomorrow (17 May 2011). (Sale 2447: Important English, Continental and American Silver and Gold). The pieces in question are all Renaissance and Baroque works, mainly dating from the 17th century. Before WWII, the objects all belonged to the Herzog collection. The collection of Baron Mór Lipót Herzog, a wealthy Jewish magnate in Budapest was one of the largest of its time in Hungary, which got largely dispersed during the war. The silver objects in the collection were last fully documented in a 1930 inventory, and most of the pieces were on view for the last time at various exhibitions at Budapest's Museum of Applied Arts at around that time. The pieces have been recorded as wartime victims of looting, and their whereabouts were unknown until this sale.

The New York Times also wrote on the sale, and has this to say about the provenance of the objects, based on a telephone interview with the anonymous seller: "a Herzog family member had managed to bring the pieces to New York at some point. The family had long kept them in storage."


You can browse the objects on the website of Christie's, where a full e-catalogue and a slideshow of objects is also avaliable. When browsing the auction catalogue, the lots in question go from Lot 99 to 127 + lot 132.

17th century pendant with St. George  

Many objects from the Herzog collection are of course embroiled in restitution cases. Record-setting pieces, like the recently restituted portrait of Sigismund Baldinger by Georg Pencz have come to the market from the collection (Christie's sale 7862 of last year). Currently there is a major lawsuit going on, as heirs of the Herzog family sued the Hungarian state for objects kept in various Hungarian public collections. The emergence of these Hungarian silver objects among these circumstance is definitely most interesting.

Nevertheless, after the best pieces of the Salgó collection entered the Metropolitan Museum, it would be nice to see these pieces stay together as well, and - preferably - enter a public collection.









Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Blogging tools I use

My Flavors.me page 

I started this blog in August, so about 6 months ago. In this short time, Blogger stats recorded well over 10.000 page views here, which I consider very good for a blog with a somewhat obscure topic. I originally started this blog as an extension of my website on the art of medieval Hungary, essentially in order to replace the News section of the website (which I rarely updated). That website has been up and running for almost 15 years, and received many, many visitors. Today, the website and the blog are closely linked - all this works automatically thanks to a little tool called Feed Informer, which lists most recent content of this blog on the website. This is very neat, as now I never have to edit the news page - yet the content keeps refreshing.

In order to help readers find my blog - realizing that not everyone uses RSS feeds or Google Reader - I got a number of smart tools to work, which share all new content on social networks. First I registered at NetworkedBlogs - this service automatically posts updates to Facebook and Twitter. Oh yes, I also started a Twitter account, which proved to be one of the most important sources of traffic to my blog. As all these services were linking directly to individual posts, I also installed a LinkWithin widget, which helps readers get to other posts as well.

There are two more services I use, both of which required a few minutes to set up, and now work on their own. First is a very nice platform for creating personal websites, called Flavors.me. The website aggregates my blog and Twitter feeds, and also photos I uploaded to Picasa web albums and Flickr. Worth a try. The other service is a very interesting tool, called Paper.li. It automatically creates an online newspaper from Twitter posts I selected, so I set up a list following Twitter accounts focusing on medieval art - thus the Medieval Art Weekly was created.

Well, there was not much about medieval art in today's post - but if you follow some of the links above, you will get to a few interesting sites, and I hope that you keep following and reading the Medieval Hungary blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hungarian goldsmith objects enter the Metropolitan Museum, part II.

I could not resist - I have to include here a few other superb objects from the Salgó collection. All these have been published before in the catalog of the collection, and now appear in the Collection database of the Metropolitan Museum, as outlined in my previous post.

First here is this beautiful 16th century Hungarian belt buckle, decorated with pearls and rubies:

Belt buckle from the Salgó collection
Metropolitan Museum, 2010.110.1

Then there is a nice late 16th century silver-gilt tankard from Transylvania, made by the goldsmith Gregorius Gunesch (Nagyszeben/Hermannstadt/Sibiu). It is not illustrated in the collection database, the picture below is from the 1996 catalog.

Silver-gilt tankard from the Salgó collection
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010.110.6


Somewhat later is one of my favorite pieces from the Salgó-collection, a spice canister from 1681, commissioned by Michael Teleki, chancellor of Mihály Apafi, Prince of Transylvania. Once again the image below is from the 1996 catalog - a brief description is given by the Metropolitan Museum collection database.

Spice canister from the Salgó collection
Metropolitan Museum, 2010.110.39

There is a lot more in the collection. I will give an update here, once more images will be added to the collection database of the museum.