Showing posts with label Marosi Ernő. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marosi Ernő. Show all posts

Friday, November 01, 2019

Spectacular Cycle of Medieval Frescoes uncovered at Visk

At a press conference on October 30th, 2019, the Teleki László Foundation presented the early 15th-century fresco cycle uncovered in the Calvinist church at Visk (Vyshkovo, Ukraine). The wall paintings - which had been found in 2001 and partially revealed in 2012 - were uncovered with the support of the Rómer Flóris Plan. This is a Hungarian government program launched in 2015 and aimed at protecting elements of Hungarian cultural heritage across the borders. The wall paintings of Visk were presented to the press by Prof. Ernő Marosi, restorer József Lángi, and myself (Zsombor Jékely). 

Visk is located in the Zakarpattia Oblast region of Ukraine - and area which was part of the Kingdom of Hungary until 1918. The medieval church at Visk was built in the first third of the 14th century and is a simple Gothic edifice with a rectangular nave and a polygonal sanctuary. The town itself was one of the five royal settlements in Máramaros county, an area known for its salt mines. Nothing remains today of the medieval castle once guarding the settlement. Since the mid-16th-century, the population of Visk had converted to Calvinism, which led to the reconfiguration of the medieval church as well. In 1717, the town was burned down during the last raid of the Crimean Tatars into Hungary. When the church was rebuilt, the medieval frescoes were no longer visible - they were eventually covered by rich ornamental paintings executed in 1789.

Press conference with Ernő Marosi, József Lángi and Zsombor Jékely (photo: Magyar Kurír)
The medieval wall paintings of the church were preserved in the sanctuary. Their existence had been known for some time, and their presence under later layers of plaster was established in 2001. Several details had been uncovered by restorer József Lángi in 2012, which led to a plan for their complete recovery. Once the community of the church was also convinced of the importance of these frescoes, work could commence with the help of the Rómer Flóris Plan. In September - October 2019, the entire surface of the sanctuary wall has been cleaned and wall paintings have been uncovered on the northern and southern wall of the sanctuary, as well as around the eastern windows.

Passion cycle on the northern wall of the sanctuary

The ensemble recovered by József Lángi is fragmentary: a large Late Gothic window opened in the southern wall destroyed a large portion of the wall paintings. The vaults collapsed (most likely in 1717) and were replaced by a flat ceiling - thus a very important part of the former ensemble is missing. A 19th-century gallery installed in the sanctuary for an organ caused further damage. Despite all this, a remarkably complete cycle of wall paintings has come to light. The northern and southern wall of the sanctuary was decorated with a detailed Christological cycle, narrating the story of Christ from the Annunciation through the Passion all the way to the death and Coronation of the Virgin Mary. 

Massacre of the Innocents

The cycle was arranged in four registers in a wrap-around pattern (so running left to right on the northern wall, continuing on the southern wall, then jumping back to the northern wall and so on). Many of the scene survive fairly intact, including monumental compositions of the Massacre of the Innocents and the Entry into Jerusalem, as well as several episodes from the Passion of Christ. Although there is a lot of damage to the cycle, and the fire of 1717 changed the coloring of the paintings, the power of the storytelling is still clear to see today. Dramatic and expressive scenes - such as the Arrest of Christ or the scene of Christ being nailed to the cross - add to the richness of the narrative. On the eastern walls, in the spaces between the windows, a gallery of saints was painted in several rows. Most of them appear to be female martyr saints: Catherine, Barbara, and Margaret can be identified today.

The surface of the wall paintings still needs to be cleaned and they need to be restored - a task which can hopefully be completed during the next two years. In the meantime, we can already establish that the fresco cycle was painted during the second part of the reign of King Sigismund (1387-1437) - most likely in the 1420s. No other works are known by the same workshop in the Upper Tisza Valley, so the discovery of these frescoes is a significant addition to our knowledge about medieval painting in north-eastern Hungary. Art historical research on the fresco cycle will commence in the near future, and hopefully, initial results will be published soon.


You can read more about the press conference (in Hungarian) in this overview by Magyar Kurír. To learn more about the medieval churches of the region, have a look at the website of the Route of Medieval Churches. Photos in the post are by Attila Mudrák.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

French review of Hungarian art history books

As I wrote on this blog before, a number of books were published on Hungarian medieval wall-painting in recent years. A French researcher of medieval Hungarian painting, Marie Lionnet wrote a detailed and knowledgeable review of some of these publications, which was published in the journal of the French Institute of Art History, Perspective. Books reviewed include the Festschrift to Ernő Marosi, the book of Mihály Jánó on the research history of medieval wall painting in Transylvania - which was mention in this blog post before - as well as two books to which I contributed (and wrote about here).

Marie Lionnet wrote her doctoral dissertation on late medieval wall painting in the Kingdom of Hungary, you can read a pdf version of her conclusions here.

The full text of the journal Perspective is only available on a subscription basis. Thanks to the kindness of the author, and with permission of the publisher, I am able to provide the full text of the review, which you can access by clicking here. (This will open in Google docs - you might want to save a PDF copy for easier reading).

Full citation for the article is as follows:

Marie Lionnet: "Histoire de la peinture médiévale dans le royaume de Hongrie", dans Perspective, La revue de l'INHA, 2010/2011-2, décembre 2010, p. 384-389 (

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Medieval manuscripts at the National Library

A page from the 14th century Bible
of 'Weceslaus dictus Ganoys'
National Széchényi Library 
The National Széchényi Library preserves Hungary's largest repository of medieval manuscripts, and it is also an important research center in this field. On Monday, January 24th 2011, a series of lectures will be held about various medieval manuscripts and early printed books.The detailed program of these sessions can be studied on the blog of the National Library (in Hungarian). Lectures will be given by researchers working at the library, as well as by art historian Ernő Marosi.

If you would like to know more about the medieval holdings of the library, the 1940 catalogue of Latin medieval manuscripts is available online (Emma Bartoniek: Codices Latini Medii Aevi), to be found among the databases of the National Library (go to Kézirattár). Also, there is a lot of information available on the Bibliotheca Corviniana, as I wrote in a previous post and also on my website. Most important resource is the Bibliotheca Corviniana Digitalis. For other early Hungarian books, you might want to look at another website of the library, dedicated to the earliest Hungarian linguistic records (the full website is largely in Hungarian).

Friday, October 08, 2010

Reviews of the Sigismundus exhibition catalogue

One of the most important medieval art history exhibitions organized in Hungary was the one dedicated to King and Emperor Sigismund in 2006

Shown first in Budapest and later in Luxembourg, the exhibition was accompanied by a catalog published in Hungarian, German and French. Several other publilcations were also published in conjunction with the event, including the acts of a conference held a year before. The full list of publications can be seen on the website of the exhibition. A few photos of the exhibition are available on my website.

The exhibition catalogue, titled Sigismundus - Rex et Imperator: Kunst und Kultur zur Zeit Sigismunds von Luxemburg, 1387-1437, was edited by Imre Takács, with the assistance of Zsombor Jékely, Szilárd Papp, and Györgyi Poszler. It was published Philipp von Zabern of Mainz (ISBN 978-3-8053-3626-0).
Over the years, a number of detailed reviews have been written of this exhibition catalog. I am listing a few of them below. Some reviews also discuss the conference volume, edited by Michel Pauly - François Reinert and titled Sigismund von Luxemburg: Ein Kaiser in Europa. Tagungsband des internationalen historischen und kunsthistorischen Kongresses in Luxemburg, 8-10. Juni 2005.

In addition, there is a long review by Štefan Oriško in, Ars (Bratislava), 39 (2006/1), 31-52 (abstract here) and also by Matthew Palmer in Acta Historiae Artium, 48 (2007), 341-349, neither of which is available online. 

An important review by Klara Benešovská is not only about the Sigismundus exhibition, but also about another important venture dedicated to the Luxemburg dynasty, the exhbition
Prague - The Crown of Bohemia, shown in New York and Prague. It was published in Perspective, La revue de l'INHA 2008/1, 138-145. For more on the Luxemburg dynasty, you should also read the review of the conference volume Prague and Bohemia, edited by Zoë Opačić, in The Medieval Review. This period, one of the high points of Central European Art, will also be the subject of an international colloquium organized in Maribor, Slovenia, early next year.

Monday, October 04, 2010

New books on medieval archaeology

Given the tumultuous history of Hungary, archaeology plays a major role in interpreting the medieval heritage of the Kingdom (see my previous post on this). Excavations in this field yielded spectacular results, much of which is now summarized in a new two-volume publication. Titled A középkor és a kora újkor régészete Magyarországon (Archaeology of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period in Hungary), and edited by Elek Benkő and Gyöngyi Kovács, the book will be presented to the public tomorrow (October 5). Ernő Marosi, a member of the Hungarian Academy, will present the book.

41 authors wrote the total of 980 pages in these two well-illustrated volumes. The book is in Hungarian, but with English summaries. The volumes were published by the Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences You can read about some other publications of the Institute here.

You can read an interview with the editors on the website of the Hungarian Academy and in the online historical journal Múlt-kor (both in Hungarian).

For additional information on this field, you can turn to a book published some years ago. Visy Zsolt, ed.: 
Hungarian archeology at the turn of the millennium (Budapest: Teleki László Alapítvány, 2003) contains a great number of studies on medieval archaeology, and is available in a pdf version at the website of the Foundation (this is the link to the Hungarian version). See especially the section on the Middle Ages and the Post-Medieval period, edited by József Laszlovszky on pp. 345-413.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Architecture in Medieval Southern Hungary

A long-awaited book has finally appeared last week. Dedicated to medieval architecture in the southern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, the book has been in the making for about 10 years. In a sense it is a continuation of a volume focusing on the southern area of the Great Plains, published in 2000.* Both books were edited by Tibor Kollár. This new publication is quite wide in focus: geographically it encompasses territories ranging from the north-eastern corner of present-day Slovenia all the way to southern Transylvania in Romania. Most of the monuments discussed are located today in Croatia and Serbia. These southern counties of the Hungarian Kingdom flourished during the Middle Ages, but got largely devastated during the 150 years of Ottoman rule and the wars of the period. Nevertheless, as this book proves, there is still an enormous amount of surviving material, much of it quite unknown for modern research - either in Hungary or elsewhere.

Some of the monuments discussed in detail (and in several studies) include the Benedictine abbey of Dombó (located near Rakovac in Serbia), the prior of Arad (Arad, Romania) and the cathedral of Zágráb (Zagreb, Croatia). In addition to architectural monuments - mainly churches and castles - and their stone carvings, a number of important wall-paintings are also published in the volume, such as the frescoes of the former Pauline monastery near Csáktornya (at Šenkovec in Croatia) and of the former parish church of Pozsega (Požega, Croatia). There are overviews of medieval churches in the Prekmurje region of Slovenia (parts of the medieval Hungarian counties of Vas and Zala), of castles in the area between the rivers Drava and Sava, and of Pauline churches. Most studies, however, are monographic articles dedicated to single monuments. Overall, the book contains 26 long studies.

While the majority of the authors are based in Hungary, there are also important studies by Slovene, Croatian, Serbian and Romanian authors. Hungarian authors include such noted scholars as Ernő Marosi, Imre Takács, Béla Zsolt Szakács. Sándor Tóth, who sadly passed away while the book was in preparation, also contributed an important study on the Gothic rebuilding of Dombó monastery. All the studies are published in Hungarian, but there is a section containing English summaries of them. It also has to be mentioned that the book is 1080 pages long, and contains over 600 illustrations, most of them new photographs taken especially for this volume by Attila Mudrák.

Monday, August 09, 2010

New research on medieval wall-painting

The number of medieval wall-paintings known from the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary has greatly increased. In Transylvania, a complex program of inventorization uncovered numerous monuments, many of which had been fully uncovered and restored during the last decade. In the north-eastern part of the Kingdom (which is now split between Slovakia, the Ukraine, Hungary and Romania) similarly a number of exceptional find have been made, and many key monuments have been fully restored. Thanks to these discoveries, in these regions we can better appreciate the regional characteristics of medieval wall-painting - thus several local workshops have been identified, and the chronology of many works has been clarified.
I had the pleasure of contributing to two large volumes presenting these discoveries. In both cases, I worked together with restorers. Both volumes were edited by Tibor Kollár, and photographed by Attila Mudrák. The first volume, published in 2008, was written together with Loránd Kiss, and it presents two dozen monuments from Transylvania. The second volume, published last year and written together with József Lángi, focuses on North-Eastern Hungary. The volume also includes an introductory study by Ernő Marosi.

Buy it at

Loránd Kiss - Zsombor Jékely: Középkori falképek Erdélyben. Ed. Tibor Kollár. Budapest, Teleki László Foundation, 2008. 363 pages, ISBN 978-963-7081-14-9

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ernő Marosi 70

Ernő Marosi, the doyen of Hungarian art historians, celebrated his 70th birthday this Spring. To celebrate his birthday, a conference was held at Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University, where he was asked to respond to each and every paper (Disputatio de Quodlibet) - an event, which proved to be a great success.
Ernő Marosi was also presented with a beautifully prepared Festschrift, written by a team of international scholars, focusing almost entirely on the history of medieval art in Hungary. Apart from a few studies in French and German, the entire volume is in English - thus accessible to the international scholarly community. Titled Bonum ut pulchrum, the study collection provides a much-needed overview of the questions in the focus of Hungarian art historical research. The book is available from the Art History Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
The book was presented to Marosi at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on April 16th, here is a report on the event.

BONUM UT PULCHRUM. Essays in Art History in Honour of Ernő Marosi on His seventieth Birthday.  Eds. Lívia Varga, László Beke, Anna Jávor, Pál Lővei, Imre Takács. Budapest, 2010. ISBN 978-963-7381-97-3. Hb., 567 pp., ills.

The contents are available in the Union Catalogue of the Art Libraries Network.

The Hungarian art history journal, Enigma, also dedicated its latest issue (no. 61) to Ernő Marosi.