Showing posts with label painting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label painting. Show all posts

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Italian Trecento Panel Discovered in Hungary

A previously unknown Italian Trecento panel painting went on display today at the Damjanich János Múzeum at Szolnok. The exhibition was opened by Mária Prokopp, Professor Emeritus at Eötvös Loránd University, a noted expert of early Italian painting. Dr. Prokopp provided the following information about the panel to the Medieval Hungary blog:
The panel was discovered in 2010 by the art historian of the Szolnok Museum, László Zsolnay, at the parish church of Kunhegyes. He was able to trace the history of the painting, which comes from a small chapel near Kunhegyes, at Tomajpuszta. This Neo-Gothic chapel has been erected by the Nemes family, and was completed in 1892. The Trecento panel was donated to the chapel around 1900. It stood there until 1945 - after which the chapel was sacked and fell into ruin. From the furnishings of the chapel, only this altarpiece was saved, which was taken to Kunhegyes and forgotten - until it was found by Zsolnay. On the back of the panel, there are two seals proving the legal export of the panel from Italy and its origin from Florence. It was established that the panel comes from the church of Santa Maria a Ricorboli in Florence. Ricorboli is now a suburb of Florence, just south of the Arno. The medieval church there was demolished around 1900, and its original furnishings were sold at the time, to raise money for the new church, built between 1906-1926 (which today still preserves a panel painting of the Virgin and child, attributed to Giotto and his workshop).

Trecento panel from Kunhegyes - Photo by Magyar Nemzet,

The panel painting is the right section of a large polyptych, in a modern (Neo-Gothic) frame, and depicts two saints. The one on the right, facing towards the center of the former altarpiece, is St. Dominic. The other saint is a knight, who has been tentatively identified by dr. Prokopp as St. Nemesius, while László Zsolnay proposes that he represents St. Sebastian (with a bunch of arrows in his hand). Other parts of the altarpiece have so far not been identified. It is quite clear that the painting comes from the circle or workshop of Andrea Orcagna, the leading master in Florence after the Black Death of 1348. Mária Prokopp proposed a possible attribution to Jacopo di Cione, while Angelo Tartuferi, curator of medieval art of The Uffizi attributed it to Giovanni del Biondo, when asked by Zsolnay (Tartuferi has since become the new director of the Galleria dell'Accademia). However, the current condition of the painting makes the task of attribution difficult.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New books on art in medieval Hungary

I've recently written brief reviews of several English or German language books about the art of medieval Hungary - including the conference volume published by Villa I Tatti on Italy and Hungary in the Early Renaissance or Evelin Wetter's book on late medieval goldsmith works from Hungary. I am happy to report that two new books in English have been published on the subject - both will be treated in more detailed reviews later on. For now, I would just like to inform my readers about these important contributions, both by young researchers, to the study of medieval art in Central Europe.

The first book is part of the »Studia Jagellonica Lipsiensia« series: Emese Sarkadi Nagy: Local Workshops - Foreign Connections. Late Medieval Altarpieces from Transylvania. Ostfildern, 2012. 

Here is the brief description: Altarpieces are complex works expressing the intellectual, economic and cultural life of a country. This comprehensive volume provides in-depth art-historical and historical analysis of various groups of winged altarpieces in Transylvania, especially the areas inhabited by Saxons. A complete catalog of the surviving Transylvanian altarpieces and lots of color pictures document this important chapter in European history and make this book an indispensable reference work.

The other book was published by Brepols Publishers: Tim Juckes: The Parish and Pilgrimage Church of St Elizabeth in Košice Town, Court, and Architecture in Late Medieval Hungary. Turnhout, 2012.

One of the most important building projects in late medieval Hungary was the reconstruction of the parish and pilgrimage church of St Elizabeth in Košice (present-day Slovakia). The burghers of this prosperous, free royal town decided to rebuild their main church shortly before 1400, and work continued, with several interruptions, into the late fifteenth century. Along with the ambitious and unusual design that emerged, far-reaching artistic connections with centres such as Prague and Vienna ensure the church’s exceptional value for architectural history – not only within Hungary, but in the Central European region as a whole.

It is this value as an art historical document that the present work seeks to exploit. It approaches the church’s fabric as a source of information about patrons, masons, and congregations, attempting to locate the dynamics behind design choices made. This necessitates a detailed reconstruction of the building enterprise itself, before the focus shifts to the impact of the St Elizabeth’s project both in northern Hungary and further afield (Transylvania, Lesser Poland), allowing the town lodge’s remarkable achievements be set in inter-regional context.

More information on both of these books is coming soon here on the Mediaval Hungary blog!

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

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:

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.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Saint Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas providing dowries at night to the three virgins.  
Panel form the St. Nicholas altar of Jánosrét (Lúčky), c. 1480-90.  

This is the central part of the altarpiece, with St. Nicholas in the shrine of the altar. 

Happy Saint Nicholas Day! 
More info here or here

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, December 02, 2010

Medieval holdings of Budapest museums

I often find myself trying to explain the system of Budapest's major art museums to foreigners. Although it is a clear system, it can still be confusing at times. For example, you can find important medieval artworks in all major museums of the capital. In this post, I will give a brief overview of the system, and list the most important medieval holdings of Budapest museums.

1. Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum)

This is Hungary's oldest public museum, founded in 1802. The present building of the museum, designed by Mihály Pollack, opened in 1847. Originally, all kinds of collections were housed here, a lot of which formed the basis of later museums. Today, it is basically a museum dedicated to the history of Hungary. The museum houses a large number of medieval objects from the territory of historic and modern Hungary. Various objects - including stone carvings, pottery, etc. - are held in the Archaeological Department and are on view in the Medieval Lapidary. Departments of the Historical Repository hold all kinds of medieval objects - furniture, textiles, weapons and ceramics. Of particular note is the Collection of Metalwork, with the best selection of Hungarian goldsmith works. Highlights of these collections are on view in the permanent exhibition. Until 2000, the Coronation regalia were kept here, too - today only the Coronation mantle remains in the Museum. The museum has a useful website, with lot of English language content - although not every page is translated from Hungarian. Start browsing here.

2. Museum of Applied Arts (Iparművészeti Múzeum)

Founded in 1872 and modeled after the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Applied Arts was the second major public museum in Hungary. It is housed in an Art Nouveau building designed by Ödön Lechner, opened in 1896. The collections of the museum include all fields of decorative arts - metalwork, furniture, ivories, textiles, ceramics. This is the only major national museum in Hungary where objects of Hungarian origin are side-by-side with other European works. When it comes to medieval objects, the collection is stronger in general European art (most Hungarian objects can be found in the National Museum). Particular highlights include medieval ivories, important goldsmith works from the Esterházy-treasury, chasubles and other medieval textiles, etc. Some of the highlights are on view in the permament exhibition of the museum, but the website only provides information on them in Hungarian. You can still browse the collection and picture galleries of highlights here. The museum's permanent exhibition of the history of furniture is located in the Nagytétény mansion on the outskirts of Budapest, and includes a number of medieval and renaissance objects.

3. Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum)

Officially founded in 1896, the Museum of Fine Art is based on the Esterházy-collection, purchased by the Hungarian state in 1871, and on numerous other acquisitions carried out during the last decades of the 19th century. The main building of the museum opened in 1906. The museum is basically dedicated to monuments of western art, including Egyptian and ancient art, stretching all the way to the present day. Focus is on paintings, drawings and sculpture (for other fields, see the Museum of Applied Arts above). Hungarian works have been transferred to the Hungarian National Gallery (see below). In terms of medieval art, The Collection of Old Master Paintings is particularly strong in Italian Trecento works as well as German/Austrian Late Gothic paintings. There are a number of outstanding medieval drawings in the collection as well, and there is a large collection of medieval sculpture - the latter presently not on view. For information and highlights, visit the website of the museum. In 2006, the Museum of Fine Arts organized and housed the great international exhibition dedicated to Emperor Sigismund.

4. Hungarian National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria)

The National Gallery was created in 1957, with the intention of providing a separate museum dedicated to Hungarian art. It is primarily based on material transferred from the Museum of Fine Arts. When the new museum was transferred to its present building - in the former royal palace of Buda - the Old Hungarian Collection was also transferred there. This is a rich repository of Hungarian medieval art, consisting of medieval stone carvings and sculpture, panel paintings and a large number of complete altarpieces. The collections can be browsed on the website of the museum.

5. Budapest History Museum (Budapesti Történeti Museum)

The main site of this museum  - the Castle Museum - is also located in the building of the former royal palace of Buda (this site opened in 1967). Lower levels of the museum incorporate the remains of the medieval royal palace. The museum is an archaeological and historical collection - similar to the Hungarian National Museum - focusing on the territory of Budapest. As the Buda side of present-day Budapest was the medieval seat of Hungarian kings, the museum is particularly rich in medieval objects, most of them archaeological finds. The famous statue-find from the period of King Sigismund is also on view here. New excavations keep adding significant material to the collections. The English version of the website is not quite complete, but you can read about the permanent exhibitions here. In 2008, the museum organised and housed the exhibition titled Matthias Corvinus, the King.

6. Museum of Ethnography (Néprajzi Múzeum)

Started in 1872 as a unit of the Hungarian National Museum, and becoming an independent institution in 1947, the Museum of Ethnography moved into the former Palace of Justice in 1873. It might be surprising that I am listing it here, as the museum has no medieval collection - but it does include a number of medieval objects in its collections of European furniture, ceramics and textiles. The website of the museum is available in English, but the collection database is only in Hungarian. The Ethnological Archives also contain a lot of material about medieval buildings and wall-paintings.

I did not add pictures of actual medieval objects to this post - but you will find plenty to look at by following the links above. Of course, it is best to come and see these museums for yourself! If you would like to know even more about museums in Hungary, visit the central website for Hungarian museums.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hungarian medieval paintings exhibited in Bruges

Virgin and Child from Bártfa (Bardejov)
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest 

A major exhibition, titled Van Eyck to Dürer can be seen starting from tomorrow at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges (from October 29, 2010 to January 30, 2011). The aim of the exhibition is to survey the far-reaching impact of early Netherlandish painting on Central Europe. The press release states the following:

"In the fifteenth century the Flemish Primitives triggered an artistic revolution in Central Europe. Talented painters like Jan van Eyck with his brilliant eye for detail, introduced new painting styles and techniques. Their influence spread rapidly and inspired scores of artists, including the painter, draughtsman and etcher Albrecht Dürer. Van Eyck and Dürer are two great masters from the period 1420-1530. A pioneering exhibition brings together first-rate works by them and some of their contemporaries, drawn from notable European and American collections. Paintings and other art forms will illustrate the interaction between the Flemish Primitives and art in Central Europe."

No doubt, an overview of painting in this one-hundred years should be a feast for the eye, and juxtapositions of famous works could provide numerous art historical insights. The exhibition does not seem to have an extensive website, but you can read on it at the Brugge Centraal website, of which the exhibition is part of.

Crucifixion from the altar of Jánosrét
Hungarian National Gallery 
More information is available in a tourist brochure (pdf here) and images of works to be exhibited can also be seen here. A catalogue, published in several languages and edited by Till-Holgert Borchert, should also be available starting from tomorrow (link to the GermanEnglish and French versions at Amazon).

In addition to focusing only on Germany, the exhibition also includes several paintings from East Central Europe. The Hungarian National Gallery is loaning a few panel painting to the exhibition, to illustrate the impact of Netherlandish painting on 15th-century Hungarian painting. The works were selected by Gyöngyi Török, who also contributed to the catalogue. Works on loan include a wing of the altarpiece from Jánosrét (Lučky, SK) and panels from the altarpiece of Mosóc (Mošovce, SK), both dating from the 1470s. Two smaller panels illustrated here - a Virgin and Child from Bártfa (Bardejov, SK) and a Man of Sorrow from Kassa (Košice, SK) - are also in the exhibition.

Man of Sorrows from Kassa (Košice)
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
These works are perhaps not the most sophisticated examples of Hungarian painting showing the influence of Netherlandish painting. It also has to be said that this influence was for the most part not direct, as new painterly ideas were transmitted to Hungary through Germany and Austria. Finally, some of the best works in this artistic trend - including the main altars of Kassa in Upper Hungary, or Medgyes (Medias, RO) and Berethalom (Biertan/Birthälm, RO) in Transylvania - are still standing in their original location, the same spot where they have been erected in the 15th century. One of these unmovable works is, however, evoked at the Bruges exhibition. A monumental fresco of the Crucifixion in the parish church of Nagyszeben (Sibiu/Hermannstadt, RO), painted in 1445 by Johannes de Rosenau will be shown through a large-scale copy, painted at the beginning of the 20th century, and also lent by the Hungarian National Gallery. I will use this opportunity to include a photo of this fresco here (without the upper part, which was heavily repainted in the 17th century).

(I don't think I will be able to go and see this exhibition. If you have a chance to visit it - please add a comment with your impressions. Other places to see examples of medieval Hungarian paintings include the exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London and at the Musée Cluny in Paris).