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Revue Pamiatky a múzeá – Summary 2/2005

Sebastian Majsch, the Painter of Marksmen’s
The written documents of Sebastian
Majsch’s (1807-1859) contacts with the significant Bratislava Marksmen’s
Association come from 1838. The first targets we can ascribe to him without any
doubt come from 1841. His artistic career culminated in the 50s thanks to
several commissions to paint church interiors. Minimum three of his targets have
been prserved in the collections of the Bratislava City Museum. The first is the
target painted on the occasion of the celebration of Emperor Franz Joseph I‘
arrival to Bratislava on August 13th, 1852. A section of the vista of Bratislava
from the Patržalka side with pontoon bridge is painted on the dark background on
the asymmetrical cartouche from leaves and rocailles. The vista is almost
identical with the large votive picture, Majsch painted for the basilica in
Mariazell on the occasion of a jubilee pilgrimage, which took place in that
year. The target framed by the asymmetrical cartouche, reflecting the residue of
Baroque philosophy of painting, looks a bit archaic, but at the same time owing
to its painting standard, ranks among the best targets we know, made by the
The target with the Emperor’s portrait in Austrian officer uniform
comes from 1854. The Emperor is painted on the bank of the Patržalka side of the
Danube: part of the town vista with the castle is painted on the right in the
background. According to the text on the ribbon with inscription which hems the
target, the Association donated it to its patron, General Major and Commander of
the Military District Anton von Ruckstuhl on the occasion of the Emperor’s
birthday on August 18th, 1854. Also the decorative target of May 29th, 1855 with
a crowned two-headed eagle, where in the medallion there is a view into the
interior with marksmen’s targets and the Emperor’s portrait in a large gilded
frame could have been made by Majsch. Two years before his death Majsch painted
another target with the Emperor’s portrait – on the occasion of his visit to
Bratislava on August 24th, 1857, when the Sovereign in person opened the
„Imperial Shooting“ for the Bratislava Marksmen’s Association and won the first
prize. As we can see in the inscription on the target’s perimetre (Geschossen
von Seiner K.K. Apostolischen Majestät Franz Joseph I am 24-ten August 1857 zu
Pressburg) it was the so called opening target of the Imperial Shooting. A small
black target with a concentric circle was the place hit by the Emperor. In the
bottom part of the target, in the oval cartouche a three quarter portrait of the
Emperor in hussar jacket with general’s rank and the order of the Golden Fleece
and a star to the great cross is painted. The richly framed medallion with
vista-like turned acanthus leaves is in sharp contrast with the austere official
portrait. Both portraits of Franz Joseph painted on marksmen’s targets together
with the altar picture of Lord’s Transformation on Mount Tabor in the church of
the Holiest Saviour in Bratislava (1854-1859) rank among the earliest Majsch’s
famous works.
Only a torso has been preserved from originally numerous
S.Majsch’s works. In the light of our present day knowledge it is just the
marksmen’s targets which represent the essential part of the known works of the
artist labelled as painter of sacred pictures in literature. On the basis of the
research in the marksmen’s target collection in the City Museum, we can ascribe
him at least a share in the authorship of ten or eleven targets. The research
proved that he worked for the Marksmen’s Association for over twenty years,
actually till the end of his days. He reminds us permanently of various
significant events not only in the Asssociation’s life but in Bratislava as well
as in the period before and right after the mid 19th century.

Short Recording of the World in Slovak
Textbook of 1760
In the mid 18th century (in
1784)“The Latin Introduction into Contemporary World Geography“ (Introductio in
orbis hodierni Geographiam…) by Johann Tomka Sásky, a prominent Slovak
geographer, with the introduction by Matthew Bel and a little dictionary of
Slovak geographic terms in considerably bohemized form was published in
Bratislava. The first geography textbook for basic schools written in
comprehensible language, slovakized Czech, was the textbook by Ladislas
Bartolomeides „Geography or Description of the World with Six Maps Engraved by
His Own Hands“, published as late as 1798 in Banská Bystrica.
The book which
has not been published but is one of the sources of the Historical Dictionary of
Slovak Language, published by the Ľudovit Štúr Institute of Linguistics of the
Slovak Academy of Sciences in Veda since 1991 has more striking Slovak features.
It is a hand written geography textbook „Short Recording of the World, Which is
a Small List of Countries, Towns, Waters and also Diverse Nations,“ A.D.1759,
completed in 1760 (the work can be found in the Széchényi Library in Budapest,
sign. Quart. Slav. 37). This is a relatively free and topicalized translation
published all over Europe, even in Trnava (in 1745 and 1755) and Košice, of the
Latin geography textbook „Geographica globi terraquei Synopsis“, compiled from
the works of the German geographer and pedagogue Johann Hübner (1668 –1731). The
Slovak text was based also on the older Trnava publication of 1745. The
Enlightenment and popular didactic character and the mission of the work is
explained in „The Introduction to the Reader“, where the work is presented as a
useful pastime, which teaches by words and pictures about the world. The work
presents the basics of mathematic geography, information about the poles, about
the climatic zones, meridians and parallels, about the equator, Zodiac, about
the movement of the Earth and other planets. Its objectiveness is to be stressed
also by the pictures of the Earth’s hemispheres, continents and countries. The
Slovak text, though it originated in the environment of university in Trnava,
was not written as a textbook, by no means as a university one, but as a
popular, educational book, a handbook on one’s own country, on Europe and the
world. The author, (or the translator) however, knew also Copernicus‘
heliocentric views. The forms of geographic names testify to the author’s effort
to „slovakize“ the text. Most probably he did not know the Czech forms of the
names. The author (or translator) drew altogether 28 maps to the text. He came
from western or central Slovakia and used cultured west Slovakian dialect, which
was one of the recommended forms of Slovak language. We know that we should look
for the author in the environment of the university in Trnava and that he
probably came from the former Trenčín Comitat. However, we shall have to wait
for the name of the author of the first Slovak geography textbook.

18th Century Cartographer’s Technical
The 18th century maps were worked out in
quite different civilization conditions and by absolutely different technical
equipment (instruments) which can be hardly compared with the geodetic and
cartographic technology used today. It was just in the 18th century when we
could record general development of science and technology. Improvement and
development of new technical aids and apparatuses, whose practical aim was to
present more exactly the geo-relief of the country was the result of the overall
trend in the area of cartography in the Age of Enlightenment. In this connection
we should stress that particularly astronomic measurings with the definition of
geographic coordinates, meridians and parallels contributed definitely to
greater accuracy of the maps of that period. Improved and more precisely made
instruments, mainly compasses and quadrants, enabled more precise measuring of
angles, distances and constant points. General definition of the basic meridian
was one of the key problems of the 18th century cartography. Researchers were
not unified as far as its geographic position in the terrain was concerned,
which reflected in the fact that each more significant country in Europe used in
its maps other basic meridian. Also the most significant Slovak 18th century
cartograher Samuel Mikovíni (1686, 1700? – 1750) contributed to this chaos too.
He defined the basic, zero meridian, also called the Bratislava meridian
(meridiano Posoniensi) which ran through the north eastern tower of the
Bratislava Castle. However, this meridian, as well as many others, till then and
even later used ones (Ferrara, Paris, Nuremberg, Bologna, Berlin, Vienna,
Gusterber, Buda and the like) was not finally accepted. Mikovíni had also merits
in triangulation of the country by processing the trigonometric net of triangles
in the 30s of the 18th century. He based his measuring network in Bratislava
(castle, north eastern tower), Svätý Jur (church), in Nitra (Zobor), at the
mountains Vojšín and Sitno and in Banská Bystrica. He joined them into the
network of triangles with exactly measured top angles. He placed the basic
points of trigonometric network in the territory of Slovakia, though he carried
out measurings also in other parts of the monarchy. Even by this, Samuel
Mikovíni was ahead of his period. The triangulation of the whole Hungary began
to be defined much later, as late as 1806 during the second military
Theodolites in which the original counting precision of defining
degrees and semi-degrees improved to 5 – 2 minutes, began to be more frequently
used for measuring degrees with large area triangulation in the second half of
the 18th century. Technical equipment of the 18th century cartographers did not
meet the mapping demands in solving the grandiose task of mapping the whole of
the Austrian Monarchy in the period of the first military mapping (1769 – 1785).
From the aspect of mapping proportion 1 : 28 800 it was the most detailed
mapping in Europe in those days, but was not grounded by good quality geodetic
basis. The greatest drawback of this mapping consisted in the fact that there
did not exist a unified triangulation network of the monarchy. That led to
simplified approach to defining the coordinate system in the field, which in
turn negatively influenced the quality of the maps with all the necessary

Sword – the Most Efficient Weapon of
The first specialized weapons
originated as late as the Bronze Age, which started about four thousand years
ago in Slovakia. However, the production of new weapons was very demanding: they
were made by casting into the so called lost mould. The first swords appeared in
Europe in the Middle Bronze Age. The swords from Jur near Bratislava and from
Zalaba can be considered to be the oldest finds in our territory. Particularly
the military élite of the militant and expansive grave mound people cultures was
armed by such weapons in our region. According to our knowledge in the New
Bronze Age also our territory became one of the sword production centres.
Concretely northern Slovakia had a good raw material basis and owing to that
local development of metallurgy was recorded there. The members of the
Kalenderber culture, who came here from the Upper Danubian region brought to
Slovakia the knowledge how to process iron. We can speak of mass spreading of
swords only in connection with the Celtic expansion. The Celtic arsenals were a
sort of overture to the arrival of the Romans in Central Europe.
Slavs began
to use swords probably as late as the 7th century under the influence of the
Avar armies. The Avars, brought to the Carpathian basin eastern nomadic types of
swords and sabres, but gradually took over also the armament from the arsenal of
their western neighbours – the Francs. This concerns mainly the special swords
which got into the Avar environment just owing to Germanic tribes. We can find
in their armament also the heavy swords from west European workshops. From the
aspect of the used weapons an interesting development took place at the end of
the 8th century in the territory north of the Avar „caganate“ i.e. in present
day Slovakia. The proces in which the Slavonic power élite developed took place
there. The so far known archaeological finds indicate the connections with
Franconian environment probably as a counterbalance to the Avar pressure. The
ostentatious sword, found in Turčianska Blatnica, made in one of the top west
European arms producing workshops is an unambiguous evidence of the mentioned
development. We can duly label it as one of the most valuable artefacts of this
kind in Europe of the day.
Neither in the period of the Great Moravian Empire
swords became the standard military equipment. This was not caused only by the
possibilities of the ruling families, but above all by the lack of swords on the
market. Slovak smiths obviously were not able to make swords of demanded
standard and their import was limited. Franconian and northern arm makers
protected their production secrets. This concerned particularly the production
of the cutting edge by the so called technology of „damascing“. Franconian
rulers repeatedly issued orders prohibiting merchants to export arms into the
countries of Slavs and Avars.
However, men armed with swords did not
disappear from the battlefields after the disintegration of the Great Moravian
Empire and its successor states. Sword production was simplified, their
production increased hand in hand with the strength of the units fighting with
these weapons. Their fame lasted till the invention of firearms.

Monastery of the Augustinians in Veľký
The Augustinians –
monks of the order of St. Augustin settled in close proximity to the road to
Poland running right through the town of Veľký Šariš in 1274. The site is now a
sports area, known as the Castle Terrace, named after the no longer existing
Rákoczy family residence.
We have serious historical documents about the
monastery’s existence, only its localisation has remaind problematic. During the
archaeological research in the area of the Castle Terrace, carried out by the
Institute of Archaeology VPS Košice in cooperation with the County Museum in
Prešov, fragments of a stone wall 120-140 cm wide and twenty four meters long
were unearthed. Homogenous layer of building debris above the wall in the whole
northern profile indicated that the building of the discovered wall was
systematically liquidated and the terrain was levelled. The corner, supporting
wall, or the foundation built from massive sandstone was unearthed too. When
cleaning the bottom in the inner side a considerably damaged brick paving was
discovered. Massive remains of the walls indicated the existence of a church or
a large fortification building. Both buildings, the church and the castle are,
however, reliably identified, so there is the only alternative to define the
discovered tract preliminarily as a part of the Augustinian monastry
The first, and the oldest building phase, coming from the period
before the arrival of the Augustinians was the most striking – four quadratic
pedestals made of stone were unearthed. In the other probe the oldest building
phase was represented by peripheral walls, walled bases of the pedestals and a
sepulchre marked by tombstones. The general picture of the peripheral walls of
the building was completed by the excavation by the probe No.III which found its
north western corner. It is probable that the building continued further
eastwards, where the research, as it was a private property, could not
The exact date of the monastery’s disintegration is not known.
According to some indications this happened sometime between the 70s and 90s in
the 16th cenury. The Augustinians later left for the abbey in Brno (the only
Augustinian one). Their departure was planned and organised. Minimum of finds
from the period of their existence found during the archaeological research
testifies to this fact. The situation of the finds in the mentioned site
testifies that building material from the abandoned buildings was used up and
the area was levelled and an alley of linden trees belonging to the castle was
planted there. At the end of the 16th century the Rákoczys settled in the palace
below the castle. From the castle, where in 1700 Francis II Rákoczy was arrested
for the prepared conspiration against the Habsburgs, only one outbuilding (a
granary?) and a stone with the gold silhouette of the castle situated outside
the place where the building stood, have been preserved. Still less have been
preserved from the Augustinian monastery.

Wooden Churches Built Following the Letter
of Tolerance in Slovakia
Though at the turn of the
16th and the 17th centuries most inhabitants of Upper Hungary adhered to
Protestantism, the life of the Evangelical worshippers was concentrated in a few
church corporations. Owing to the defeat of the last significant Antihabsburg
uprising of Francis Rákoczy II the dominant position of Catholic Church was
intensified. Charles III by two decrees in 1731 and 1734 repeatedly limited the
rights of Protestants in the country, apart from other things also by the fact
that public services were permitted only in spiecial places and only special
congregations could have their preachers. Following the Letter of Tolerance,
however, the life of the Protestant worshippers began to develop quickly in the
The churches built following the Letter of Tolerance are generally
the buildings built between the years 1782 – 1800 and partly those, whose
construction was carried out in the first third of the 19th century. Till 1791
as many as 85 new walled Evangelical churches were built in the territory of
present day Slovakia and till the end of the 18th century there were 131 of them
approximately in 150 newly established church congregations. Only exceptionally
wood was the building material of those churches. In that period wooden churches
were built probably according to the financial conditions of individual church
congregations and also because in some places wood was the most accessible and
cheapest building material. Those churches were architecturally based on the
older ones built in the first third of the 18th century with characteristic
crosss articulation. In some cases they were partly modified into the buildings
with simple oblong groundplans. The foundations were mostly made as block
log-cabin construction without any architectural and artistic details in the
exterior. The building was dominated by a relatively huge hip roof with wooden
shingle covering. In the interior, similarly as in the wallled buildings, the
difference between the aisle and sanctuary was lost and in such a way stressed
the Protestant principle of priestly character of all worshippers. Also the
space solution of the interior church furnishing was adapted to this idea.
Unfortunately, not even one wooden church serving still liturgical purpose built
at that time has been preserved. The only so far in situ existing wooden church
is in the small village of Dužava not far from Rimavská Sobota, originally from
Selce, where it was built in 1786. When the congregation was able to afford
building a new, larger church, they decided to sell the old one for 450 gold
coins. In 1807 the building was taken to pieces and transferred. Only incomplete
and brief information exists about the great number of other wooden oratories
and churches built by the worshippers following the establishment of church
congregations and the Letter of Tolerance.
It is interesting that the
churches built in Upper Hungary served as models for the new churches built
mainly in Moravia. After the issuing of the Letter of Tolerance the Moravian
Protestants did not have enough educated preachers. They began to invite the
Evangelics of Augsburg denomination and Calvinists from Hungary, who brought
with them the already known models of the existing sacred buildings with
concrete functional and space solutions. We can suppose that to a certain extent
some churches of this type in Upper Hungary became free models of similar wooden
churches in Moravia, mainly in the region of Valašsko.

Manors in Krasňany. History of the Value of
Two autonomous Late
Renaissance two storey palaces, built side by side almost at the same time, can
be still found on the List of Sights in Slovakia of 1968. The older building was
situated eastwards and was built in 1678, the younger at the end of the 17th
century. The present day complex is the result of building connection of the two
palaces. On the basis of archive-historical research we know that the history of
the building complex dates from the first half of the 16th century, as in the
Deed of 1561 the Pongrácz family declared as their residence an old fort in
Krasňany, which they reconstructed into a new fortified castle. The older
building ranks to the group of block architectures with towers. Similarly as
other examples (Brodzany, Hájniky, Necpaly, Diviaky and others) it had painted
tectonic parts, loopholes on the ground floor and in the attic as traces of its
defensive function. We can say that the transformation of the fort into a family
residence took place in the last third of the 16th century. The second, younger
palace was built probably in the first half of the 17th century, in spite of the
old opinion, that it was built after the fire in 1654. The grandiose
reconstruction changes the old concept: the original palace of block character
with protruding prism-shaped towers was extended by a three wing building with
three circular corner towers, which fulfilled rather ostentatious than defence
function. Typologically the building originated at the turn of the period when
ostentatious aristocratic buildings of new type with U-shaped groundplans,
central yard and defensive forrtress began to be built. On the ground floor
there are loopholes and whitewahsed broad line in the plaster. However, the
windows on the first floor are framed with stone and have windowsills. The new
building with the U-shaped groundplan, joined to the old palace, has staircase
loggias which make accessible the upper floor of both buildings.
buildings are typical of the territory of Slovakia in the 16th ad the 17th
centuries. The design of their renovation ensues from the preserved condition
after the reconstruction in the 20th century, as no older plasters and paintigs
have been preserved. Two alternatives were suggested for the renovation of the
exterios: to preserve the present condition or to renew the original fortress
character of the building. The reconstruction of the decorations from the 20th
century is the starting point for the future renovation. The younger palace
could be reconstructed in such a way as to make it look as it was about the year
1700 including its colour.