Showing posts with label Holy Crown of Hungary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Crown of Hungary. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

New books on Hungarian medieval art

As this blog  is aimed for an international audience, I  generally only write reviews of  books published in English or other western languages. However, in this post I would like to call attention to a few books published mostly in Hungarian last year.

János Eisler: Kis könyv a Szent Koronáról (Small book on the Holy Crown of Hungary). Budapest, 2013

This monograph, written by an art historian - a long-time curator of the Museum of Fine Arts - is a welcome addition to the literature on the Crown of St Stephen. Not too much in detail has been written about this unique object in recent years - a basic bibliography is available on my webpage dedicated to the Hungarian coronation insignia. Unfortunately, the subject of the crown has been hijacked by authors far removed from the framework of scholarship, putting forward one crazy theory after the other about the supposed age and power of the crown. János Eisler, however, concerns himself with the actual historical, political and theological questions of 11-12th century Hungary: the period when the crown was created. I am looking forward to reading it.
More details on the publishers website.

Középkori egyházi építészet Erdélyben - Medieval Ecclesiastical Architecture in Transylvania, vol. 5. Edited by Péter Levente Szőcs. Satu Mare, 2012.

This is the fifth volume in a series of conference proceedings, edited by Péter Levente Szőcs, and published by the County Museum of Satu Mare. As was the case with the previous volumes, the subject matter ranges from Romanesque architecture to late gothic church furnishings, in this case from four-lobed Romanesque churches to the rood screen of the parish church of Szeben/Sibiu and the wall paintings of Segesvár/Sighisoara. One study I found particularly interesting is Radu Lupescu's analysis of the western portal of the Church of St. Michael in Kolozsvár/Cluj, featured on the cover of the book. The studies are published in various languages: Hungarian, Romanian, English and French, with summaries generally in English. The list of studies can be consulted here. The book was published with the support of a EU-funded Hungarian-Romanian cross-border research project, about which you can read on the project website (Patronimium2).

A szórvány emlékei (Monuments of the diaspora). Ed. Tibor Kollár. Budapest, Teleki László Alapítvány, 2013.

This is another, much more lavishly produced book on medieval architecture in Transylvania. The book aims to publish medieval churches which had been abandonded by their original builders (Hungarians and Transylvanian Saxons) in southern Transylvania, due to historical circumstances. In addition to architecture, the book also focuses on medieval wall-painting, mainly on newly discovered monuments. The books makes available a whole new set of material for researchers of medieval art, not just in the studies but also in the large number of brand new photographs. The book was edited by Tibor Kollár, who became known as the organizer and editor of a series of books on Hungarian medieval architecture. The contents of the present volume are listed (in Hungarian) on the publishers website. My study in the book can be read here (a summary is available right here on the blog).

Közös tér - Közös örökség. Common space - Common heritage. Edited by József S. Sebestyén. Budapest, 2013.

This bilingual book documents the results of a long-term project funded by the Hungarian government, aimed at restoring monuments of mainly medieval Hungarian architecture from regions outside of the borders of modern Hungary. In ten years an amount of roughly 7,5 million dollars was spent on restoring approximately 300 architectural monuments related to Hungarian cultural history. Subsidies were mainly directed towards archeological studies, professional conservation, restauration and preservation efforts, but also included at times funding earmarked for making future use of monument buildings possible. This book, which grew out of an exhibition series, present this work, seeking to offer a glimpse into the wealth of architectural monuments bearing witness to the cultural history of centuries past.

Dániel Pócs: Didymus-corvina - Hatalmi reprezentáció Mátyás király udvarában (The Didymus Corvina - Representation of power at the court of king Matthias Corvinus). Budapest, 2013.

Dániel Pócs, one of the researchers who participated in the organization of last years Florentine exhibition dedicated to art at the court of Matthias finally published a book based on his doctoral dissertation, the subject of which is political iconography at the court of Matthias. The starting point of his analysis is one of the most splendid manuscripts commissioned by the king, the Didymus Corvina (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.496). The book is an important addition not only to Corvina-studies, but also to art history of the Matthias period in general. An earlier study of Pócs on the manuscript is available in English as well: Pócs, Dániel: "Holy Spirit in the Library. The Frontispiece of the Didymus corvina and neoplatonic theology at the court of king Matthias Corvinus", in: Acta Historiae Artium, 41, 1999/2000, pp. 63-212.

See some of  the other books I reviewed or reported on previously:

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pope Sylvester and the regalia of St. Stephen (Happy New Year!)

December 31st is the feast day of St. Sylvester, that is Pope Sylvester I (314-335), well known as the recipient of the Donatio Constantini, in which Emperor Constantine transferred power over Rome to the pope. The document is actually an 8th century forgery, as already proved by Nicholas of Cusa and Lorenzo Valla in the 15th century. Pope Sylvester also carried out several miracles - for example resurrecting a bull which was killed by a sorcerer during their contest or defeating a dragon which terrorized the populace of Rome. You can read his legend (from the Legenda Aurea) here. The Hungarian Angevin Legendary illustrates his story in six scenes (all in the main body of the codex, which is at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana); I am including the two scenes mentioned above.

Pope Sylvester revives a bull
BAV Ms. Vat.Lat. 8541, f. 72r

Pope Sylvester pulls a dragon out of the lake
BAV Ms. Vat.Lat. 8541, f. 73v
In this post, however, I would also like to commemorate another Sylvester, Pope Sylvester II (reigned 999-1003), that is, the scholar Gerbert d'Aurillac. Gerbert became pope with the support of Emperor Otto III, and played a crucial role in establishing the Kingdom of Hungary as the newest Christian monarchy of Europe. He established the first archbishopric of Hungary at Esztergom, which became the center of the Hungarian church. The pope also approved the coronation of Hungary's newly baptized ruling prince, István - who became Hungary's first king. According to early chronicles and legends, the pope sent a crown to Stephen for this event. The coronation of St. Stephen took place on January 1st, 1001 (by most accounts). For his role in establishing Hungary as a Christian Kingdom, Stephen was canonized in 1083.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Holy Crown of Hungary

It is August 20th, Saint Stephen's day. Saint Stephen was the first king of Hungary, ruling from 1000 until 1038. He was canonized in 1083. Saint Stephen received a crown from the pope and was crowned as first king of the new kingdom in 1000. This original crown did not survive - although tradition associated the surviving crown with the holy king. The Holy Crown of Hungary, as it survives to this day, consists of two parts: the lower part, or "Corona greca" was made around 1075, and was sent by Byzantine emperor Michael Dukas VII to King Géza's wife. The upper part, the "Corona latina", also dates from the 11th century, and the two parts were fitted together at an unknown date, probably around 1200. Of the other coronation items, the coronation mantle and maybe also the scepter both date from the time of Saint Stephen.

You can find more information on the Hungarian coronation regalia on my page dedicated to the Hungarian regalia.
There is an excellent and detailed photo documentation of the crown and other regalia on the website of photographer Károly Szelényi (this is the material of an online exhibition put together by Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, therefore all the commentary is in German).