Sketch-book of Michael Wirth and architecture on Hutterite faience
The faience pottery was introduced to Slovakia with the arrival of the Anabaptist sect – the Hutterites, in western Slovakia at the beginning of the second half of the 17th century. The Hutterites were masters in several crafts, but mainly working with clay – jug making. They settled in Veľké Leváre, Malacky, Sobotište and many other western Slovak localities. After 140 years their community began to decline until it completely vanished. They have left behind admirable faience products. This article describes those with architectural motifs.
The Hutterite pottery is characteristic with the use of white, blue, green and yellow (or orangy-yellow) colours and a specific type of decoration. The floral theme was the basic motif used in the 17 to 19th centuries. Others included zoomorphic and anthropomorphic themes, emblems of guilds, also agricultural and architectural motifs. Several different architectural designs were found on the so-called cardinal Hutterite plates, bowls, jugs and plaquettes from the end of the 17th century, as well as inkpots from the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. The Hutterites depicted charming homes and simple churches. They were also inspired by foreign secular and church architecture. A frequent theme in the first half of the 19th century were the so-called “castle architecture”, stylized atmospheric ruins. The Stupava jug-makers, for instance, had depicted them throughout the whole 19th century. They painted them on white backgrounds, in green and golden colours with manganic outlines.
In October 2014, the author of this article acquired a rare diary of the castle-architecture sketches dating from 1836. They were drawn by the jug-maker and decorator Michael Wirth. Next to the “castles” and figures, the sketch-book also contains chronicle-like notes hand-written in Gothic script, which are addressed to jug-makers and pottery decorators, as well as Wirth’s friends and personalities of higher social ranks.
The surname Wirth is not unknown in the history of the Slovak Hutterite faience. The literature mentions jug-maker Alois Wirth from Stupava in 1797 – 1869 and John Wirth from Sobotište in the 18-19th centuries. The latter was a close acquaintance of the ceramic master Michael Wirth, who unselfishly shared his fully signed sketches with relatives as well as colleagues – jug-makers.
After restoring the Wirth’s sketch-book we hope to see his other sketches as well as the expert interpretation of his written texts.
Skalica vedute from the 17–19th centuries
The vedute (large-scale paintings of a city-scape) in the Hungarian kingdom seem to have originated during the Ottoman expansion and subsequent, over 150-year long Habsburg-Ottoman wars for the salvation of Christian Europe. The first vedute were painted in the second half of the 16th century and depict the later (Buda) and earlier (Pressburg, now Bratislava) capital of the Hungarian Kingdom, Nové Zámky, Komárno and Esztergom as strategic anti-Turkish fortresses. The town of Skalica in western Slovakia, which sits behind the mountain range of the Small Carpathians, was less threatened by the Ottoman battles and therefore less attractive to the vedute artists. Only a small number of such graphic works has thus been preserved from the 17-19th centuries.
The oldest depiction of Skalica is considered to be the coloured painting on the fly-leaf of Stambuch slezský, a book by Bartholomew Paprocky printed in 1609 in Brno. It can be found in the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow. The artist of another veduta, which can be dated between 1724 and 1742, was the well-known cartographer of Slovak origin, Sámuel Mikoviny (1686 – 1750). His work was published in 1742 in the fourth volume of Notitia Hungariae novae historico-geographica… written by Matthias Bel, as part of Nitra’s county map. The medieval town fortifications and sacral buildings inside the town dominate the vista painting, including the parish Church of Michael Archangel, the Franciscan Church of the Seven Sorrows of Virgin Mary with an adjacent monastery, the Jesuit Church of Francis Xavier with monastery and college, the Carmelite Church of the Most Holy Trinity and Pauline monastery with the Church of St. Paul the Hermit. A view of Skalica is also captured in the letter N of the boot guild’s initials from 1822.
Another veduta, a panorama view of Skalica from the direction of the Holíč town, had been largely used at the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries in the header of guilds’ letters and town magistrate documents. The information about the town topography, arrangement of streets, density of buildings, division of town parts and location of important buildings can be found on the Skalica plan from 1776. It was created by royal geometer Andrew Konrád and is kept in the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest. Gyula Lovcsányi published another veduta of Skalica in 1881 in his travel publication on the river Váh and surroundings.
Zuzana Zvarová – Tomáš Janura
Manor house of the Eszterházys in Želiezovce
The four-wing baroque manor house in Želiezovce, the district of Levice, is a simpler country residence of the noble family of Eszterházy. They raised cattle and stud horses there, and built a brewery and distillery, as well as a narrow gauge railway at the end of the 19th century.
The manor house is first mentioned in the register of the Želiezovce estate, which was compiled after June 16, 1789 as domus residentionalis. Its origin relates to Countess Teresia Erdődy (1748 – 1794) and her son, Count John Charles Eszterházy (1775 – 1834). Apart from the residence, the manor also included a large English park, upper and lower farm estates, older residential buildings and several gardens.
The manor house contained 19 rooms, a smaller room and store-room, a wooden cellar and a small storage cellar. The inventory from 1868 and 1900 lists the rooms’ contents. After 1894, the estate with the residence was divided between the six daughters of the last most significant owner, August Breunner. They agreed that the youngest sister, Countess Ernestina Coudenhove would settle in the noble residence. She lived and managed the Želiezovce estate until 1944.
After 1945 the manor house accommodated the district court, then the administrators of the state property and from the 1950s it worked as a nursery. When a new nursery was built in the 1970s, the manor house was abandoned. Its reconstruction started in the 1990s, but stopped in 1994. Since then, the manor house has been left to deteriorate, waiting for a complex renovation.
Jos. Czauczik pinxit. Sacral works of Joseph Czauczik
The Levoča native, Joseph Czauczik (1780 – 1857), is one of the most famous painters of the Spiš region. He spent all his life in his parents’ house, where he had his workshop. He painted portraits and sacral images. The literature refers to over a hundred of his works with Christian themes, which are in churches, state or private collections in Slovakia. Due to the fact that less than half of them are signed, there are questions about their inspiration and authorship.
Czauczik’s works show a unified artistic approach, which means they depict smaller epic scenes, in dimmed light and carefully arranged. The figures have been finely painted with lively looking faces. He rarely used details and reduced the traditional compositions. He preferred a moderate richness of colour. His works fit several period artistic styles: baroque classicism and neo-classicism, empire, Biedermeier, romanticism and realism. He drew inspiration from baroque styles of 17th-century classicistic art, and occasionally from renaissance works of the 16th century and rococo, classicist and neo-classicist works of the 18th century.
The author of the article thoroughly researches the works of famous artists, such José de Ribera (1591 – 1652), Annibale Carracci (1560 – 1609) and Guido Reni (1575 – 1642), which mainly inspired Czauczik in his church painting, where he often repeats motifs of the local, Slovak landscape. Czauczik also made sacral works for private owners, for instance for the aristocratic family of Andrássy from Krásna Hôrka.
The so-called prismatic bottles are a specific form of historic bottle glass. They are small in size and have the shape of a prism or multi-sided bottle. The Slovak and Czech equivalent, priska/pryska, evidently derives from the German glass terminology, prismatische Fläschchen or Schnapsfläschchen, and is mainly used in glass-making and museum work.
The prismatic bottles were a specific period glass used occasionally by quite a large group of consumers in various ranks of society. In general, they were used as a beverage glass for storing and serving spirits. They were often given as a gift for an engagement, wedding or other important events in people’s personal lives. Their shape resembles some types of bottle glass, mainly the medicinal flasks of the 17th century. The ornamental motifs relate to several types of renaissance and early-baroque table glass of the 16th and 17th century decorated with painting. The production of prismatic bottles from the 18th to the first half of the 19th century concentrated in Czech, Austrian and German glassworks. The technical literature does not mention its production in Slovakia but since the Slovak territory was the centre of glass-making within the former Hungarian Kingdom, one can assume it was also the case there.
Only a few prismatic bottles have been preserved in the collection funds of Slovak museums. The author of the article describes the collection items from the second half of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century kept in the Bratislava City Museum, West Slovak Museum in Trnava and Gemer-Malohont Museum in Rimavská Sobota. He writes about the prismatic bottles’ production techniques (blowing into forms), their shapes, colours, decorations (painting by coloured enamels, engraving into glass) and motifs (floral and zoomorphic scenes with a hint of rustic style).
Rescued gravestones from Krakovany cemetery
The municipality of Stráže (Spectaculi) is first mentioned in the Zobor document in 1113 as a guard settlement on the inner defence line of the Hungarian Kingdom. In 1338, the Stráže municipality became the property of Tomáš Rufus of the yeoman Péchy family. The local Church of St. Gall was built in the second half of the 14th century and is now a national cultural monument. Also listed is its boundary wall, an adjacent cemetery and two stone tombs of a heart shape – a late-baroque one from 1781 and classicistic one from 1867.
Until recently, there were more tombstones in the church cemetery from the second half of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, some of which were moved and freely scattered around the cemetery area. Some were fully preserved while others were damaged but with no parts missing, and some had only had their torsos preserved.
In August 2010, during the preparation works for St. Gall’s church renovation, the Balneological Museum in Piešťany carried out an archaeological research in the building’s interior and exterior, which confirmed that the burials at the church cemetery took place in the Middle Ages and Modern Times, occasionally up to the beginning of the 20th century. The preserved stone crosses, with the oldest one from 1769 and the earlier ones from 1828 and 1914, support this theory.
In the first six months of 2013, the author found out that all freely placed tombstones had disappeared from the church cemetery. They were transported to a dumping site near a no-longer functioning railway track Piešťany – Vrbové. Initiated by the Balneological Museum, the Trnava Regional Monuments Board managed to rescue, among others, two rare tombstones from the second half of the 18th century. These have been restored and are now exhibited in the Piešťany Museum.
Stone attractions of Horský park in Bratislava
For the majority of Bratislava citizens the city’s Horský park (Forest Park) is a popular place for relaxation. However, not many of them know about its preserved historical treasures, which include the boundary and millennium stones, remains of original stone benches mostly dumped into the park’s two streams and old levelling stones.
When the magistrate of the then Pressburg (today’s Bratislava) decided on June 2, 1869 that Horský park, originally known as Študentská hora (Student’s Forest), is to be owned by the city, its boundaries were probably defined. The evidence of this are the boundary stones mainly placed around the western border of Horský park. These block-stones had a simplified city emblem on the back and PV (Pozsony Város in Hungarian) abbreviation underneath. They were made of granodiorite, also called “Bratislava granite”, which was quarried in the Bratislava area.
Also interesting are four preserved granite pieces, the so-called jubilee or millennium stones, which were placed in Horský park in 1896 to commemorate the millenary anniversary of the Hungarian tribes arriving to the central Danube region of the Carpathian basin and the start of the Hungarian Kingdom.
The sporadically preserved granite prisms are the remains of fifty benches. Mayor Heinrich Justi commissioned city engineer Anthony Sendlein to install the benches in Horský park after 1870. The mayor’s granite memorial from 1908 is a remarkable attraction in Horský park. It was made by famous sculptor Alois Rigele, based on the initiation of the Bratislava Beautification Society. It originally had a panel built in on March 15, 1909, which described the history of Horský park. Unfortunately, neither the panel nor the stylised city symbol, which was originally located at the northern base of the monument, have been preserved.
The labour and concentration camp for Jews in Sereď
Labour and concentration camps were built in Sereď, Nováky and Vyhne during the Second World War to collect the Jews, and from there deport them on trains to concentration camps in Nazi territories. The camps in Nováky and Vyhne have not been preserved and therefore the camp in Sereď is the only authentic labour and concentration camp from this period in Slovakia. The Slovak Ministry of Culture declared the former labour camp in Sereď a national cultural monument on May 12, 2009. After the reconstruction of five original barracks and installation of museum collections is completed, the SNM-Museum of Jewish Culture in Bratislava plans to open a Holocaust Museum there.
The Sereď work camp for Jews was built in September 1941, in a part of a military site. From 700 to 1,200 people had worked there between 1942 and 1944. It basically was a prison, where the Jews were deprived of their rights and forced to work for the needs of the fascist regime. The main factory was a large joinery workshop. There also was a locksmith’s workshop and manufacture of concrete products. The women were employed in a tailor’s workshop, sowing hats, uniforms, underwear and dust-cloaks. Fifty-five members of the Hlinka guard watched the camp.
By the end of February 1942 it was confirmed that the work camps would change to concentration camps and collect Jews for transporting them to Nazi’s concentration camps. Two such phases took place. The first one saw 57 shipments leave Poland between March and October 1942. Thirty-eight shipments arrived in Naleczów, near Lublin and the other nineteen to Auschwitz. The first shipment that left Poprad on 25th May 1942, carried one thousand young women and girls. Then followed shipments of men capable of work. The two last shipments were reserved for patients of the Sereď Jewish hospital, who were unable to walk, the mentally ill and disabled. The last shipment left Slovakia on October 20, 1942. The first phase of transportation forced 57,752 Jews out of Slovakia, of whom only a few hundred survived the Holocaust.
The second phase in the Sereď concentration camp took place after the defeat of the Slovak National Uprising and subsequent occupation of Slovakia by the Nazis. From September 1944 until March 1945, there were 11,719 Jews imprisoned in the camp. They were cruelly treated and murdered. Bratislava SS officers Francis Knollmayer and Joseph Häckel were the camp’s commanders. The last shipment with 360 people left Sereď on March 31, 1945 to Terezín (Theresienstadt in German).
“Patriotic” motifs on ceramics and glass from 1914 – 1918
Various items from the war years of 1914 to 1918 have been preserved in Central Europe, mainly in Germany and the countries of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Though they were primarily articles of everyday use, they also had a symbolic, propagandist implication. Their decoration mainly signified the alliance of Austro-Hungary and Germany. In German, they are referred to as patriotic (patriotisch) and currently generate large interest among collectors.
There are many types of these items. They include various war badges, rings – wedding rings, mortars and pestles, money boxes and cigarette cases. They are made of a range of materials or material combinations. Next to metals (mainly iron and brass), the most numerous are ceramic vessels, a less common beverage glass. An interesting collection of these items is kept in the collections of the Bratislava City Museum. The so-called patriotic ceramics (stoneware and porcelain) encompasses plates or pendants of larger dinner sets, decorated by portraits of the Central Powers’ monarchs. These are mostly coloured, made by using a printing technique, with added painted details or gold coating. Propagation slogans or dedication inscriptions are usually part of the decoration. The museum collections also include patriotic tea sets, or individual mugs and mortars and pestles, as well as other stoneware and porcelain items of everyday use. These were produced en mass. Their largest producer in Austro-Hungary was the k. k. priv. Wilhelmsburger Steingutfabrik in Lower Austria. The patriotic merchandise was also made in Schwaz in Tyrol, Gmunden in Upper Austrian, as well Vienna (Wiener Werkstätte, or Wiener Kunst-Keramische Werkstätte). The Hungarian part lists a stoneware factory in Kremnica. Several porcelain products have the insignia of the famous Czech porcelain maker Stará Role (Altrohlau). Items with Hungarian labels (e.g. Világháború) were either made in Hungary or they were Austrian products designated for the Hungarian market.
Contrary to the porcelain items, the so-called patriotic glass is far less frequent. The collections of the Bratislava City Museum only have three such artefacts. One is a beer mug from thick colourless glass, which provenience could be identified thanks to the digital processing of the pattern books and catalogues of J. Schreiber & Neffen company stored in the archives of RONA Corp. glassmaker in Lednické Rovne. The two other glass artefacts date to 1915. It is a beer mug made from compressed glass decorated with relief double-portraits of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and German Emperor Wilhelm II, and a mug from compressed glass used in spas.
The Stollmanns in Banská Bystrica Museum
The depository of the Literary and Music Museum in the State Science Library of Banská Bystrica contains a fund of the Stollmann family, of which mainly Andrew, Eugene and Charles had significantly contributed to the cultural life not only in the town, but also the entire country throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Banská Bystrica professor of drawing, Andrew Stollmann (1852 – 1933), made around 1,500 drawings, a series of vedute, altar images, pictures of monument buildings, and panoramas of the Banská Bystrica town and his birthplace, Špania Dolina. The museum keeps a remarkable collection of notes and drawings of a human body’s anatomy from Andrej’s student years, as well as a bound correspondence from 1860 – 1880. It contains letters, mainly addressed to his oldest brother, Daniel (1844 – 1869), mostly written in German, but also in Slovak and Hungarian. Daniel studied theology and died at the age of 25 in Basel, where he is buried.
The mentioned correspondence also holds letters from brother Charles (1850 – 1928), sister Susi (Susette, 1849 − 1900) and brother Michael (1855 – 1933). The letters, which were exchanged between his family and friends from 1880 to 1933, are also bound into a book, which has 439 numbered pages. They are written in German, Hungarian, Slovak and Czech and illustrate the good family relations. August Stollmann donated this correspondence to the Literary and Music Museum’s collections in November 1978.
Another well-known member of the family, Eugene Stollmann (1896 − 1970), was an active theatre amateur and one of the best amateur actors in Slovakia. He also worked as a theatre director in Prievidza Town’s Society and since 1945 in the Town’s Theatre Society in Banská Bystrica. His work is well presented in the museum’s collections through photographs, bulletins and posters.
Andrew Stollmann and his wife, as well as other family members, are buried at the evangelical cemetery at Lazovná Street in Banská Bystrica.
Zuzana Ludiková – Danica Stojkovičová
Pietà – table painting of Paul Demosch
The difficult work that demanded both artistic as well as craftsmen skills, such as building altars, had centred in several specialized workshops in Slovakia in the 17th century. When needed, the joiners also worked with other craftsmen, such as painters, carvers and painters-gilders. Important centres of the carving and painting works were Bratislava (then Pressburg), Trnava, Trenčín, Banská Bystrica, Levoča and Košice. The typical phenomenon was the migration of the craft-masters and journeymen, who without any major language or economic problems worked around the whole Hungarian Kingdom, as well as the Transylvanian Kingdom. Several craft-masters from the Slovak region of Spiš settled in Sibiu (today’s Romania), including organ-master Johannes Vest, painter Jeremias Stranovius, goldsmith Sebastian Hann, and musician Gabriel Reilich. It is believed that Sigismundus Möss also came from Spiš. He worked closely with painter Paul Demosch, who was born in Banská Bystrica, worked for some time in Levoča and then moved to Sibiu.
The paintings of Paul Demosch are also exceptional for the territory of the Hungarian Kingdom because they are signed, such as the table painting on the main Nativity altar in St. Matthew the Apostle’s Church in Partizánska (before Nemecká) Ľupča dating from 1644 – 1654. It consists of seventeen table paintings. At the bottom on the right is the painting Performance in Cathedral, where Paul Demosch dated his work as P(aul) Demosch | pinxit A(nn)o 1644. The work that inspired him when painting the Pieta scene on the Nativity altar in Partizánska Ľupča, was reused on the table painting in St. George’s Church in Stará Halič, which is signed in the middle of the bottom section in red as P.D. 1644, which is undoubtedly Paul Demosch’s monogram.
The table painting of Pieta from Stará Halič was made using combined techniques of tempera and oil on a wooden base measuring 133 × 80 × 2 cm. The Studio of Wall and Table Paintings Restoration at the Academy of Fine Art and Design in Bratislava recently restored this work in order to secure the deformed wooden base with a flexible supportive system that would stabilize the painting for a longer time.
Katarína Haberlandová – Petra Kalová
Winter harbour in Bratislava
The archive materials on the construction history of Bratislava harbour are only partially preserved. Since the original buildings (warehouses) before 1918 were mostly temporary – wooden, the documentation mainly concerns the period after the First World War, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exist and the Czechoslovak Republic was established. A set of the harbour’s most valuable buildings from 1900 – 1945 still exists and allows not only for a deeper historical analysis of this remarkable industrial area but also for protecting its monument qualities.
The beginnings of the Bratislava harbour date back to the 1890s. The royal Hungarian Agriculture Ministry started its construction on the area of some 29 hectares. Back then, it allowed 250 ships to be anchored alongside a 6-km long embankment. After the origin of Czechoslovakia, the new state administration changed the development of the entire Czechoslovak water transport, including constructional and technical equipment of the harbours. Bratislava harbour had five warehouses in 1918, three of which were made of wood. The premises belonged to the city, which rented them to the Austrian and Hungarian steam-navigation companies. Both companies also owned small administrative buildings alongside the warehouses on the bank of the Danube. The technical equipment of the harbour was very simple and there were no cranes or other machines for reloading in the more remote part of the harbour, where in 1897 – 1907 they built the northern and southern pools, initially used for over-wintering the ships.
The building of additional warehouses, workshops and their technical equipment, as well as the extension of the railyard to 23 kilometres started in 1919. The harbour benefited from having its railway directly connected to large factories around Továrenská Street (Kablo), Košická Street (Gumon, Neolín, Apollo), later Mlynské Nivy (new city gasworks), and even more distant factories built around Račianska Street (Siemens-Schuckert, Stollwerck, Dynamit-Nobel). The state bought out the city premises and connected electricity, water and drainage to all harbour buildings. Danube’s markets, established in 1921, were crucial in supporting the business in Bratislava harbour. The construction of a bonded warehouse started in 1928, however further extension of the harbour was slowed down by the economic crises and later by the Second World War. In 1944 the situation got worse with the bombing of the nearby Apollo refinery, which destroyed most of the warehouses, mainly in the winter part of the harbour near the pools. Out of more than two hundred vessels only six were saved. Five years after the war, however, the harbour was fully functional and actively worked, even after it was nationalised in 1948, until the end of the 20th century.