Revue Pamiatky a múzeá - Summary 4/2007
The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Pezinok
The complex interior reconstruction of the parish church in Pezinok (situated 18 km northeast of the Bratislava capital), which took place between 2004 and 2006, called for an extensive archaeological research. Its attention focused on the southern side’s nave, verifying the possibility of an older sacral building and a settlement in the area before the church was built. Graves, or to be more precise, the tombs of earls, the epitaphs of which can be found in the church, were also examined.
The first written record concerning Pezinok church dates to 1317 – 1320. The noble earl family of Pezinok and Jur was to be the beneficiary of the parish and the church, which had been under the Virgin Mary’s patronage since the first half of the 14th century. The church’s reconstruction, leading to its current look, ended in 1501. Only the polygonal baptistery vessel in red marble and Earl George’s epitaph of 1426 remained from the original gothic equipment. In 1523 an octagonal early renaissance ambo and emporia (tribune) with four granite columns were added. Palatine Stephen Illésházy built a burial chapel (today’s Chapel of St. Anne) at the church’s southern part in 1608 – 1609. Between 1674 and 1726 the church belonged to the Capuchin religion, which began the reconstruction of the baroque interior. The Pálffy family probably helped them, as Thomas Pálffy was buried in the church in 1680. Throughout the 18th century a massive brick crypt appeared in the sanctuary, a tower was built at the western façade, and new altars and a sacristy were added. The rococo baldachin above the ambo also comes from this period. In the 19th century neo-gothic windows were built into side naves, edge altars were reconstructed and an oval chapel originated in the place of the former northern entry to the church. The interior’s archaeological research revealed an object of a rectangular ground plan built into the church’s side nave before the large reconstruction in the second half of 15th century took place. A crypt measuring 2.7 by 1.9 by 1 metre, which defined the function of the edifice as a burial chapel, was situated in the centre. An older sacral building of an early gothic type, coming from the second half of the 13th century at the earliest, used to be situated inside today’s sanctuary. It was demolished during the current church construction. The most important discovery was the revelation of a skeletal grave (1/06), where four ducats of Sigismund of Luxemburg (1387 – 1437) were found. The grave from the first quarter of the 15th century probably contained the remains of Klára from Hédervár, the wife of Nicolas II. from Pezinok.
The Liptovský Hrádok’s celebrated yet unknown attributes
The history of Liptovský Hrádok, the town situated in the north of Slovakia in the Liptov region, is very young. The oldest building, with the exception of the nearby castle, is the church, which dates from the end of the 18th century. Nevertheless, Liptovský Hrádok perfectly illustrates the urban and architectural developments in classicism throughout the 19th century neo-movements to the typical architectural examples of the first and second half of the 20th century.
The town has evolved around two important points – the castle on the left bank of the Belá river, just before it meets the river Váh; and the landing-place of rafts and the store-house of copper and salt on the Váh’s right bank. An industrial area gradually developed east of these urban complexes – including workshops, water sawmills and a blast furnace processing iron ore from the surrounding mines and the Spiš region. A factory producing rifles was built there at the beginning of the 19th century, which was the only one of its kind in the Hungarian kingdom. Despite severe weather, such factories turned the area into one of the most dynamically developed in Hungary, which was reflected in the town’s urban planning. Along with its industry, the town became a centre for forestry and foothill agriculture.
The oldest building still standing is the classicistic Catholic Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, built in 1790. The grandest non-sacral building of Liptovský Hrádok is the two-storied classicistic house of the Chamber Forestry School, the first in Hungary. It was built in 1800 and served its purpose until 1815, when the school was moved to Banská Štiavnica. At the same time a self-professed casino was built next to the rafts’ landing-place, where the Hrádok townsmen as well as the rafters would go for meals and entertainment. In 1805 Hrádok acquired town privileges and the right to hold market. Residential and administration houses of the forestry management and its employees were gradually built south of the church and north of the casino. Despite later and often ill-planned interventions, this classicistically developed built-up area has remained balanced in its design up until today and at the same time is harmonically immersed in the greenery of an old lime-tree alley. A mansion used to stand halfway between the dockside and the castle at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. In 1871 it housed a farm school. In 1886 the school switched to game management and thus became an indirect follower of the first forestry school. A building of a similar architectural construction – the residency of the salt administration – was erected on the Váh’s right bank between the classicistic square and the Prekážka settlement. Now an Ethnographic Museum, it houses an exposition using the large, adapted attic room.
Jozef Szirinek – the forgotten Franciscan sculptor
Katarína Pálffy, the widow after the royal palatine Sigismund Forgách, between 1634 and 1636, built the former Franciscan Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus and Maria in Nižná Šebastová. A contemporary look of the interior of the church, which also became the settlement’s parish church after an earthquake in 1750, is true to the descriptions from the second half of the 18th century. Despite the opulence of the inner equipment, the fine art interest concerning the interior has only focused on paintings (e.g. acknowledging the work by Johann L. Kracker). The process of noting down architectural particulars and details relating to the furnishings in the church has been fairly ordinarily limited and attributed to an unknown artist dating from the17th to the 19th century. Many questions, however, can be answered with a source material that has not yet been processed. But once studied it could reveal the origin of the preserved ambo and its creator.
The ambo adjoins to the northern part of the church’s triumphal arch and is accessible through a brick staircase from the sacristy. It represents the common 18th century suspension type with a vaulted acoustic roof. Four evangelists with the usual symbols at their feet form the basis of iconography. The fifth field in the middle features Christ with three disciples at his feet and to the right above him a plastic hand of St. Francis holding a crucifix – the traditional symbol of Franciscan ambos – protrudes into space. The ambo, with its size, construction and decoration is one of the church’s dominating features. Its creator, the member of the third order of St. Francis and sculptor Jozef Szirinek, worked in Nižná Šebastová as early as 1755, the year when the meeting to discuss the church renovation took place. The ambo with slightly misshapen figures in richly folded garments was not his first work for the monastery church. Apart from smaller sculptural works found inside the church, he also created the wooden baptistery embellished with an angelic choir, which stands near the sanctuary arch opposite the old baptistery. Moreover, it can be safely assumed that the monastery had also used Jozef Szirinek’s professional skills for smaller artistic-craft works. When exploring the sculptor’s work and life, it is worthy of note that the register of the Franciscan monastery’s laic brothers from 1760 also lists the name of Petrus Szirinek, himself a sculptor by profession. So far it has not been proved for certain whether we are talking about the same person or an unknown family relative.
Renaissance portals in Slovakia
The late Middle Ages and the commencement of the renaissance period in Slovakia, along with busy migration throughout Europe, brought about changes in economic, technical and cultural development. The 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries were also the time of new thoughts and philosophical postulates, which can be reflected in the period’s architecture. The renaissance portals in our area follow Italian patterns, which worked well mainly with antic-like construction elements processed into templates. They were applied and then changed according to the customer’s request and local conditions. The oldest building to boldly represent renaissance motives is the town hall in Bardejov from 1505. The renaissance portals of the southern lobby of Bratislava’s St. Martin Cathedral come from the same time, the first decade of the 16th century. Examples of eastern-Slovak renaissance include the entrance portal to the Sabinov church built in 1523, the Lipany church’s portal from before 1520, and the stone, originally polychrome portal in Levoča from 1530, in the interior of patrician house No 40. The basic composition is repeated at the portal in the Ňaršany church from 1540. The motif of a portal with a semicircle archivolt can be also found at Kežmarok’s town hall from around 1541. The renaissance portal in Prešov tucked into the passageway of the burgher’s house No 106 – 108, built at the square in 1508, has a very civil appearance.
The portals get artistically more rational in the second half of the 16th century. Among the examples of tectonic-designed portals is the entrance to Kammerhof courtyard in Banská Štiavnica from 1550, which became the state institution’s architectural design. The third quarter of the 16th century enriched Banská Štiavnica with several other portals, whose decorative elements signify bourgeois architecture. Similar types can be found in other Slovak towns, such as Bratislava, Bardejov, Kežmarok, Spišská Sobota, and the whole range of medieval towns and settlements. Aristocratic architecture also deserves attention: there is the decorative stone portal in Betlanovce from 1564; the initially polychrome portal from around 1560 at Orava castle; the portal of Hronsek manor house from 1576; and the Lower Gate’s entrance portal for carts and pedestrians in Kremnica from 1539, highlighted by relief sculptures with the town’s insignias and mining symbols.
Pictures from the life of Miss Mimi
Bratislava City Museum runs an exhibition entitled The Time of Refinement: the 1920s and 1930s in Bratislava, until December 2007. It displays the housing culture of Bratislava’s higher middle class throughout the interwar period, along with everyday bits and pieces of an adolescent Miss Mimi Redlich. Photographs from two family albums and the facts on their backsides had suggested several general outcomes. They capture Mimi from birth to her school-leaving exam (1914 – 1932); they show the life, education, fashion and free time activities of a girl maturing up in between two world wars. Along with the ethical (German) and confessional (Jewish) rank, it was the status of the family, to which she was born, which had the main influence. Her father Samuel Redlich was initially a military officer, then clerk and businessman in building industry. Mimi studied at German State Secondary Grammar School (Deutsches Staatliches Lenart Gymnazium) in Bratislava. On the photographs with her schoolmates (1928 – 1932), or when doing her favourite sports, such as skiing, skating, swimming, tennis playing, rowing and hiking, as well as when travelling around Europe (Riccione, 1932), one can notice the combination of conservative lifestyle, behavioural rules and social conventions surviving from the period before the first world war and from the modern town environment of the 1920s and 1930s.
Traditional folk ornament on Novohrad´s tombstones
By the end of the 19th century graphic signs and symbols also spread to folk art in Slovakia. In northwest of the central Slovak region of Novohrad the ornamental decoration most significantly culminated on the stone and wooden gravestones of the Evangelists of Augsburg confession. These were characteristic for their maximum use of the stone, including the sides and back part of the gravestone. The paradox is, however, that the ornamentation profusion on gravestones was absent from regional folk architecture at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It only increased in the Novohrad’s traditional construction after the First World War, when, on the contrary, the range of motifs on gravestones reduced. In both cases we talk about the identical area formed by the villages of Veľký Lom, Madačka, Nedelište, Ábelová, Lešť, Turie Pole, and Horný and Dolný Tisovník. Characterised for their shepherd-farmer’s life, the villages preserved many archaic features thanks to the specific compactness of the area and its isolation.
The Novohrad traditional gravestones of the Evangelists merge several period movements and styles. The most significant is the influence of renaissance ornamentation. One of the central motifs, a beetle, is sometimes considered to be a spider, applied together with sideward floral ornaments. Rosettes, or hearts, the typical motifs of the folk art in general, later replaced it. Birds are other zoomorphic motifs that appear on gravestones. The stonemasons could be inspired by Jewish gravestones, or the generally spread belief that a soul can transform into an animal. Most numerous in shape and quantity are the symbols of circle and cross. Frequent are the motifs of hexagram rosettes, star-like and whirling motifs, swastikas, ropes and circular, relief-like floral motifs. There are more than 140 basic motifs enriched with other geometric and decorative elements, and created in various ways. Often used elements include four- to twelve-pointed stars, as well as solar and lunar motifs. Abundantly applied is the rose motif pictured as a six- to eight-pointed rosette embedded into a circle. The motif of a watch face announcing the exact time of death is the typical motif for the Novohrad’s northwest area. It symbolises the traditional custom, when in time of death the surviving relatives stopped the clock. Floral ornamentation forms an extensive group of motifs; from stylish to more realistic images of a shrub with flowers, fruits, branches and leaves. Anthropomorphic motifs of a non-sacral form and the variety in colour were specific features of the Novohrad’s stone gravestones in that period. Ornament and text were highlighted with polychrome, which also protected the stone against bad weather.
Manor house in Humenné
For three and a half century the medieval history of the town of Humenné (eastern Slovakia) was connected with the Drugeth family coming from Italy. King Charles Robert dedicated Humenné to Phillip Drugeth in 1317, as a part of the Brekov castle dominion. In the middle of the 14th century the family built a fortified residency in the town. The stronghold, enclosed with a water ditch, used to stand in the place of today’s manor house. Bratríci armies (the late Hussite soldiers) temporarily lived in it, in the middle of the 15th century. When King Matthias Corvinus defeated them, they returned the castle and the property to the Drugeth. Gabriel Bethlen conquered the town in 1619 and the town’s castle burnt up. A four-wing representative manor house was built at its place, complete with a central courtyard and massive four-edged corner towers with protective function. The only relic preserved to remind of the medieval castle is the drawbridge at the centre of the main forefront. After Sigismund Drugeth’s death in 1684, who left no male descendant, the property ended up in the hands of the Csaky and Vandernáth families. They rebuilt the manor house into a baroque style in the second half of the 18th century, with most significant changes taking place in the richly furnished interiors. Apart from large gardens with summerhouses and various farm buildings, the manor house area also included greenhouses with exotic plants.
The last big reconstruction took place in the 19th century, when Alexander Andrassy became the manor house’s owner. The house was completely rebuilt in the style of then pseudo-forms of French baroque manor houses. A large library with wooden panelling and compartment ceiling originated inside the pseudo-gothic interior, the representative rooms of the southern wing received massive fireplaces, and rich stucco decoration appeared on the staircase.
The first half of the 20th century and the two destructive world’s wars had a very negative impact on the artistic-historical monuments in our area, including the manor house in Humenné. It was turned into a military hospital in 1914, and robbed by Hungarian Bolsheviks in 1919. The war and after-war events of 1940s worsened its state even more. The members of the Red Army marauded the town’s dominant along with the local citizens. The fire on June 28, 1947 completed the destruction, turning it into ruin. The manor house remained in desolate state until 1963, when it was pronounced a national cultural monument and its reconstruction into a regional museum started.
Viera Obuchová – Vladimír Dian
Stirling – the Scottish castle and the Bratislava family
The Stirling castle in Scotland, which towers high on a cliff above the river Forth and guards the way to the Highlands, played a key role in the battle for Scottish independence. It is a gem of renaissance architecture and its current look comes from the 15th and 16th centuries. Coincidentally, the gravestone of significant Bratislava photographer František Jánoška at Ondrejský cemetery (see Monuments and Museums No. 4/2006, pg. 28 – 30) also bears the name of Prof. Dr. Alexander Stirling. Would there be any connection between the buried Bratislava citizen and the Stirling castle? Based on the records of the family relatives, who now live in Hungary and USA, the Stirling surname indeed comes from the mentioned Scottish castle. In the time of religious wars in the 16th century Mary Stuart (1542 – 1567) left the castle with her husband Enrich Darnley and their daughter, who married count George Stirling. The family history was captured in the work Album Stirling, which one of the professor’s students brought with him from Stirling. Unfortunately, the album burnt down during Bratislava bombing in 1945. However, the family preserved the stylish coat of arms of the Stirling family dated to 1666 and the castle’s model.
The Stirlings were Catholics. After their escape they first lived in France and Switzerland until they settled in Transylvania and Hungary. Some started families in Australia and the family even nourishes the legend that General Stirling helped George Washington during the battle for independence. The modern genealogy of the Stirlings starts with Mihály Stirling. He and his wife Anna, born Edelhofer, had three children. Son Jozef (József) was the father of Alexander Stirling (born 1853 in Szombathely). He studied philosophy in Heidelberg, worked in Braşov and since 1885 taught at secondary grammar school in Svätý Jur near Bratislava. In Bratislava in 1888 he married Berta, born Hornyansky. Their daughter Margita (1891 – 1981) married the famous Bratislava photographer František Jánoška. Professor Alexander Stirling taught economy, history, Hungarian language and literature at Business Academy in Bratislava, where he died on July 9, 1907.
The Grieving for Christ from Bánovce nad Bebravou
The theme Grieving for Christ is not a unique one in Christological iconography and since the 12th century up to the Trident Council in the middle of the 16th century it had inspired many significant paintings and sculptures. The image is a synthesis of the themes The Deposition from the Cross and The Entombment, which preset the narrative formality and added emotional attributes of Pieta. The number of people participating in the story is determined in The Grieving by that time’s understanding of the canonical and apocryphal sources. The relief pictures a grieving group with the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalene. The women in the background are Jesus’ relatives; they are the stepdaughters of the Virgin Mary. The relief from Bánovce also shows Pharisees Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
The Bánovce relief, The Grieving for Christ, comes from a carver’s workshop in Banská Bystrica and dates up to 1480s. We assume that the relief was part of the altar cabinet in the Bánovce Church of St. Nicholas. We do not know who was its donor, but regarding its style and geographical proximity with the Grieving relief from Podlužany (a settlement situated 7 km north of Bánovce), which was ordered by Matthias Corvinus for the Romanesque castle chapel in nearby Uhrovec, we might assume that the arts patron also ordered the Bánovce relief in 1480s. The Grieving is the work of a master, who was well aware of the Low Land’s painting as well as the Austrian and German sculpture, which is suggested through a free resemblance with Michael Wolgemut’s work and his altar in Zwikau from 1479.
After a complex research, including dendrologic, stratigraphic and pigment analysis, restorer Eva Michalčíková-Bezúchová literary “freed” the relief from the shield of several layers of white monochrome. By eliminating the disturbing relief parts and applying moderate colourful retouch she created a harmonic work true to the historic and artistic value of its original.
Renowned spa facilities in Piešťany
The construction of brick spa houses at the Kúpeľný ostrov (Spa Island) in Piešťany began at the end of the 18th century by their proprietors, the Erdődy family. Three houses named Napoleon Spa were built throughout the 19th century. The intention to build a hotel with balneotherapy next to the spa came to realisation after January 1, 1889, when the business firm of Alexander Winter and Sons long leased the Piešťany spa from Count Ferenc Erdődy.
Two objects with different function, the Thermia Palace hotel and Irma balneotheraphy, were built as one work during the secession period, following a project by Budapest architects Ármin Hegedüs and Henrik Böhm. The entrance hall of a circular ground plan has the central communication function in the two-wing four- and five-storied hotel: it joins with all social-catering hotel rooms (cafeteria, two saloons, small and big dining rooms), the passage way leading to the spa house through the original portal, and the main staircase with a lift going up to the residential part. The dominant feature of balneotheraphy is a circular swamp, enclosed with four wings of various use. The entrance hall spreads across the whole main wing and opens to all spa facilities as well as the hotel part of the complex.
The houses underwent several reconstructions in the past, with the socialist renovation in the 1970s interfering most into the original interiors. Apart from the radical reconstruction of the back wing, the finishing construction between the swamp and the hotel, and an extension in the place of the initial terraces above the main wing’s ground floor, the residential part was deprived of almost all of its historical furniture.
Between 2004 and 2007 both objects underwent a complete renovation. In order to achieve the original look, all necessary interventions into the interior were removed when restoring the balneotheraphy’s main rooms (swamp, pool and entrance hall) and the hotel’s social rooms. Along with the construction-historical and restoration research, a great help also came from the archives – though incomplete but extensive project documentation, including interior adjustments into several social rooms. Together with period photographs it completed the information about the original look of almost all rooms.
The Church of St. Margaret Antiokhii in Kopčany
The Church of St. Margaret Antiokhii (9th century AD), which stood long forgotten amidst the fields behind the Kopčany settlement (Záhorie region) near the Czech border and close to the Great Moravian agglomeration of Mikulčice, has lately enjoyed a great media attention. The church stands on a mild off-road mound. It now consists of a smaller nave and straight finish with a slightly trapezoidal shape. The inner width of the nave is 3.8 m, the length ranges from 4.7 to 4.9 m. The back wall of the presbytery measures 1.85 m, the side walls are 2.3 m. Up to recently, the nave used to have a flat ceiling, today it looks directly into truss. Before the research started the forefront used to have a large arched portal and a window above it. Curved window used to be on the southern wall of the church’s nave and the rough exterior coating was from 1926.
The results of the archaeological researches that have taken place on the mentioned locality since 1960s are known. Less attention has been dedicated to construction-historical, and mainly restoration research focusing on interior, which was provided by the Restoration Department of the University of Fine Arts. The restoration research altogether established 12 intervention phases, 8 decoration layers (and more hypothetical ones) and over 20 types of mortars and coatings.
Among the most significant findings of the research are the two fresco fragments on the church’s eastern wall. The microscopic analysis of the samples detected four colour layers on a ruby-colour basis, which points to quite frequent interventions. The top layer revealed a fragment of a three-quarter profile of a woman’s face with aureole, on a blue background. Based on the preserved remains of the woman’s face in younger layer, it is almost certain that the woman is the St. Margaret Antiokhii, since the scenes served the function of an altar picture with the patronage motif. The pigment analysis dates the paintings’ origin to the second half of the 16th century.
Industrial objects in Kráľova Lehota and surrounding in 18th – 19th centuries
Humans, domestic animals, but mainly water ran the first machines. Water was the main driving force for entire centuries; the first steam engines emerged in Slovakia only after 1856. Kráľova Lehota (Liptov region, central Slovakia) and its close surroundings have had very good slopes on their watercourses. Moreover, the main roads from the east, south and west of Slovakia flow into the valley. That is why there were so many industrial objects in the past: mainly wooden saws, some of which were later remade to use steam or electrical drive. In the past, wood and other goods were only transported using rivers and larger flows. Rafting became one of the most important occupations of the inhabitants in the surrounding settlements. There was a huge landing place at the banks of river from where they sent large rafts all the way down to Belgrade.
Stone for constructions was mined and fractured in a stone quarry near the road. Yet in the middle of the 20th century they mined the stone there for a narrow-gauge railway that led nearby. Other facilities included water mills, distillery, and workshops for a locksmith, cabinetmaker and carpenter. The latter one functioned for almost a hundred years and later produced furniture. In 1941 they built a new brick wooden factory FIPA in its place. At the end of the 19th century they built a limekiln in the Hybe area, which ceased to work in 1930.
The most significant production in this locality was the iron-works with blast furnace (6.5 m), founded in 1771 in Maša. It melted the iron-ore mined around the villages of Važec, Hybe, Nižná Boca, Liptovský Ján, Svarín and Hrádok. In 1873 the ironworks was closed for economic infectivity. Consequently, the nearby production units and iron workshops also closed down. The surrounding woods provided enough wood for burning it into wooden coal. In 1804 and 1805, in a locality still called Fabriky (Factories), they built a factory for producing rifles and pistols. It was the only factory of its kind in the Hungarian kingdom. It closed down in 1813.
The cup of Bratislava masons and stonecutters guild
The guild relics found in Slovak museums feature a large group of typologically manifold guild’s vessels. They were mostly used for drinking beer or wine during mutual feasts of the guild’s members. Along with large pots were also preserved various types of rare cups (pokale), mainly used for festive occasions. They were made by local tintsmiths, goldsmiths, or even silversmiths, as well as masters from other, more distanced places. Such example is the cup of Bratislava masons and stonecutters (now in collections of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava), which was made from embossed and toreutic silver and partially gilded in Augsburg. The Bratislava masons and stonecutters ordered and purchased their cup in 1650. Typologically, it belongs to richly differentiated group of cups with lid (so-called Deckelpokale) and has several mutual signs with the so-called Buckelpokale. Almost no profane works of local goldsmiths were preserved in Slovakia from that period. Therefore the cup of Bratislava masons and stonecutters is a unique item of its kind and a rare guild’s relic in Slovak collections.
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