Showing posts with label silver. Show all posts
Showing posts with label silver. 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.









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.