Traces of Vydrica settlement
Today’s Vydrica, the historical settlement on the southern slope below Bratislava Castle, is an empty area of 35,721 m2. The buildings were completely demolished in the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. An architectural-historical and artistic-historical analysis was carried out in 2007 and 2008, following an archaeological research. The remains of architecture found under the ground (in revealed probes) and fragments above the ground (relics of the original buildings) were evaluated. Detailed geodetic surveying of the area’s current state helped to identify unknown ruins of the castle hill, covered with self-seeded trees. The relics of architecture were accurately identified by comparing with relevant archive material.
The area below Bratislava Castle had been largely urbanized since the early Middle Ages. Road fees had been collected at the Danube’s ford crossing from the 11th – 12th century. The most significant building in the Vydrica locality was the tollhouse at the ford crossing – a fortified complex with a tower, which had been called the Water Tower in archive documents since 1380. In 1988, the archaeologists suggested that the western entrance to the historical town, could have been through the Water Tower. In the 14th century, the medieval Vydrica had its own school, public “royal” water well and royal spa. By the end of the 16th century, a new phase of development began, when the Pálffys became the landlords of the below area of Bratislava Castle for 250 years. Noblemen came to castle services, and with them arrived craftsmen and salesmen; the Italian, German and Jewish ones had been permanently settling below the castle since the 12th century.
The property distinction and increasing welfare of individuals also reflected in the architecture of Vydrica. We assume, that it used to have a fortification (lower gate) on the road up to the castle, built on the south-eastern part of the castle hill. The early architecture of Vydrica was made of stone (stone was extracted from the castle rock first when building the castle and later when building the castle fortification and town walls) and was undoubtedly monumental. This is documented in the remains of the so-called Braunecker Palace with the system of underground brick canalisation, which helped to water and dewater the area, in the relics of the Black Lion’s Inn and Kempelen’s water supply. The archive research brought up new information on the latter. Also revealed were the spacious ice factories, which are documented on the yet unpublished situation plan of the Bratislava surroundings from the first half of the 18th century, Domus Horti et Fundi ad Magnum Platea Vajdritz Spectantes, in the Bratislava City Archives. The berth and arsenal of the Danube´s marine, Naval Armament and Navalis Arzenal, which were visited by Russian tsar Peter the Great in June 1698 after his trip to Vienna, are of special interest.
Reminders of the Reutters from Banská Štiavnica
Two kettles that most probably belonged together in the 17th century appeared in Bratislava not far apart, in the same time, at the turn of 2010 and 2011. The first was displayed at the exhibition entitled Industrial Country? Central Slovak Mining Towns in the 16th – 18th Centuries that was held at the Slovak National Gallery from December 16, 2010 to March 13, 2011. The second one was part of the Ars Liturgica exhibition in Bratislava Castle, prepared by the Slovak National Museum, and ran from May 15, 2010 to April 30, 2011. Both pieces were made in the Banská Štiavnica workshop of Bartholomew Weigl (1623 – around 1700) in the 1670s – 1680s. Further fate of both kettles can be observed in dedication inscriptions or family coats-of-arms, which, together with other artistic or literary works (medals, portal, kettles, mass chalice, album amicorum and poems of praise) commemorate the Reutter family of Banská Štiavnica, and mainly its “founder”, Ulrich Reutter (born in 1563 in Bavaria).
This respected and publicly very active bourgeois not only owned houses in Banská Štiavnica, but also mines, smelting plants, mills and other shaft-top arrangements, gardens, country estates, meadows and woods. He died sometime between 1619 and 1621. During his studies, from 1578, he began to keep his first album amicorum (book of friends, also German Stammbuch), which is now preserved as part of the former lyceum library in the Slovak Mining Museum of Banská Štiavnica. The second album amicorum, acquired in the collections of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, originated in 1582. More than 550 entries written in these two albums, within several decades, testify to continuous European contacts of burghers in mining towns at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Reutter’s descendants continued to influence the central Slovak mining towns for over a century with their activities and gradually made relations with significant European families of Liempacher von Liempach, Ehrenreutter von Hofreut (ab Hofferent), Spillenberger and Hellenbach. The members of the Reutter family from Banská Štiavnica, typical representatives of early modern Lutheran communities in central Slovak mining towns, did not think of a pompous social representation in arts as their priority, nevertheless, traces of their individual fates are remembered in several smaller artworks.
Daniel Hupko – Ivana Janáčková – Jozef Tihányi
Bratislava memorial of Stephen Pálffy
The Slovak National Museum-Červený Kameň Museum held an exhibition entitled Under the Roof in 2005, which displayed a bronze bust of Count Stephen Pálffy. The story continued a year later, when Issue 18 of the Bratislavské noviny newspaper published an article about a park, which used to spread behind today’s historical building of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, where a marble fountain with a bust used to stand. The author of the article mentioned that a fragment of the fountain has been preserved at the Bratislava City Gallery. A photograph of the fountain accompanied the article and the bust on it conspicuously resembled the bust of Stephen Pálffy kept at the Červený Kameň Castle. The sandstone pedestal, which has been standing in the centre of the upper garden of the outer courtyard of the Červený Kameň Castle since 2007, reveals a text referring to Count Stephen Pálffy.
Stephen Pálffy (1828 – 1910) was a significant personality in public and social life of Bratislava and the Bratislava district in the second half of the 19th century. He helped to found the Economic Society of the Bratislava district, was a member of the then Hungarian congress and chairperson of the Bratislava Decorating Society. In 1900 he became the senior member of the Pálffy’s family: he received the Bratislava Count title and along with it a castle estate. At the Červený Kameň Castle, he guarded a part of a family collection founded by his great-grandfather Rudolf Pálffy that consisted of antiques, artistic items and curios.
A fountain memorial of pink marble was built in 1912 to commemorate Stephen Pálffy, the supporter of many Bratislava community and charity organisations. It stood at the then Csáky Square, behind the theatre, and faced the façade of the palace that housed the Bratislava Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which initiated the memorial’s construction. Bratislava sculptor Alois Rigele created the fountain with the bust. He made the bust based on a photograph portrait that was taken around 1900 at the Bratislava’s Strelisky photo studio. The pedestal, i.e. the fountain of pink marble that has been preserved in collections, was designed in a modern, Art Nouveau style. An inscription with the name and description of the portrayed person was written on the pedestal above the relief and the institutions that helped with the memorial’s building were listed at the back. Several parts of the fountain captured on the photograph from the memorial’s unveiling are missing (e.g. the coats of arms); nevertheless the museum at the Červený Kameň Castle preserves their plaster models.
Wooden articular church in Istebné
The spread of Protestant ideas during the 17th century, strained social-political and religious situations in the country, threatening Turkish invasion and the ongoing anti-Habsburg uprising of Imrich Thököly, led monarch Leopold I to summon a Hungarian congress to the town of Sopron in 1681. Among other things, he permitted the evangelists of Augsburg confession (the so-called Lutherans) to build new churches, vicarages and schools. These churches were built, based on article (i.e. clauses) 26 of the congress and therefore called articular. Only five of them have survived in Slovakia, the church in Istebné is one of them.
The municipality of Istebné in Orava region sits some 6 kilometres southwest of the town of Dolný Kubín. It neighbours the original area of Orava see – the town (today a municipality) of Veličná, whose citizens, often quarrelled with the Istebné inhabitants over territorial issues. The first written evidence about the municipality comes from the beginning of the 14th century. In the 17th century, during the estates’ uprisings, the municipality was destroyed several times and almost wiped off the map. Its new development began in the second half of the 18th century in connection with the yeoman’s families of Dávid, Revický, Párnický, Ambrózy and Csillaghy, whose members served high functions at the Orava estate.
Istebné was one of Orava’s two municipalities, where the constructions of articular churches were permitted. Orava deputy district administrator Paul Dávid donated the land to the evangelical church. The churchgoers built the wooden church in 1686. The existing church comes from 1730 – 1731, however its altar was made in 1698, which means it had been part of an older chapel’s interior. The rustic construction of the church is made of spruce and fir wood and stands on high stone foundations that level the uneven terrain and create sufficient space for the location of several crypts. The basic ground plan of the church copies the rectangular form of older Roman-Catholic churches. The solid hip roof with shingle cladding highlights the architecture of this simple sacral building. A smaller vestibule was added to the entrance part of the church at the beginning of the 20th century. Rectangular windows are situated in two subsequent rows. The nave narrows southeast to the altar part, where a matroneum is situated with an exceptionally small sacristy underneath. A simple organ with six registers used to be part of the altar matroneum. On the opposite, north-western side of the church is a big matroneum in the shape of the letter U, which runs almost the whole length of the church side walls. The organ from 1768, which replaced the original one, has not been preserved. For static reasons, the large three-side matroneum and the nave’s timber ceiling were reconstructed in the 1970s.
The wooden timber ceiling in the church nave was changed several times; only the altar part preserves the original one with painted decoration. The original house of worship contained the altar, ambo and stone baptistery with wooden cover. A rare wooden chalice with painted floral motif is among the preserved liturgical items from the middle of the 18th century.
The story of St. Julius’ sculpture
An inconspicuous sculpture of a Roman soldier has been standing on the edge of the road connecting Nitra and Veľké Janíkovce since 1812. It was renovated in 1915 and almost after a hundred years, in 2010, a restoration of the preserved torso with an unclear iconography started. During the identification of the hitherto unknown saint, only the torso of the sculpture with no head or any attributes was available, with only brief information that it was the sculpture of Julius the Martyr.
An older photograph from a 1997 publication about the municipality’s history served as a basis for reconstruction. Since the crucial iconographic element was missing – the sculpture’s head, neither the iconographic dictionaries nor the internet pages with the entry of St. Julius the Martyr (or any martyrs called Julius) helped to solve the mystery of the story, that could have inspired the artwork from 1812 in Janíkovce. The correct identification of the sculpture of St. Julius the Martyr, with the additional name Roman, was revealed after the study of a historical manuscript from 1759, which was preserved in the Diocesan Library in Nitra. Its author, priest and religious writer Andrew Rabček (1712 – 1792), who worked in Veľké Janíkovce, where he renovated the Church of St. Peter and Paul, had obtained the relics of this saint from Vienna thanks to influential people. St. Julius Roman was murdered during the persecution of Christians in the 3rd century in Rome and thanks to the relics he became the patron saint of the Viennese imperial court.
Historical zinc roofs
Zinc plate was one of the materials that radically entered the architecture of many monuments, mainly in the second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Its formability and durability made it possible to create elaborate architectural and decorative features of air-shafts, cornices and other roof elements. The roofs using zinc plate are striking, with their unusual combinations of roof claddings.
The development of the zinc plate production in the first decades of the 19th century also saw the use of zinc on roofs within the Habsburg monarchy. The then builders were attracted to this new material’s lightness, formability and durability. At first, zinc was only used at less accessible areas, where maintenance was difficult, such as at tower caps. These received a new material appearance and specific colour, which replaced the formerly used sheeting from lead plates, or alloy plates with lead that was historically called alba laminia. The light grey zinc plate, which initially contained more copper, used to oxidize and would eventually go dark. Since it was impossible to cover atypical areas without joints, more efficient sheetmetal techniques and constructional approaches were developed.
The cupola roof of the St. Rosalia Church in Komárno (1842 – 1844) was undoubtedly among the first examples of zinc roofs built in our territory. Lots of quality examples of roof constructions in our territory have been preserved, mainly from the last third of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, such as the roof of the Kuska Villa in Ružomberok (1876), the palace roof at Pohraničná Street in Komárno, Andrássy Palace at the Main Street in Košice (1899) and the roof of the picture-gallery in Krásnohorské Podhradie (1908 – 1909). One of the well-preserved town districts with valuable examples of zinc roofs is the Palisády area in Bratislava. The construction took place there after 1880 and enriched Bratislava with an integrated complex of rental houses, villas, palaces and public buildings featuring the parameters of a luxurious metropolitan area.
Most of the zinc roofs and decorative zinc features in Slovakia are today, in a state of disrepair. There is a need to adequately restore these rare elements and raise awareness about the zinc presence in historical roofs. The owners and users of these buildings have often no idea, what material was used on the artistically and architecturally most valuable parts of their roofs. In order to preserve them, they either coat them with improper paints or replace them with copper zinc imitations. These can never bring them back to their original colour and material appearance.
Historical weapons as collection items
By the end of the 19th century, it was the privilege of the economically strong and spiritually enlightened groups and individuals across Europe to collect items. The oldest and constantly valuable collection items were the artistic works – paintings, sculptures, jewellery and utility items, among which, were those made of expensive and rare materials. These were mainly collected and preserved by noble families, church orders and later also by rich burghers. In the 17th century, the European aristocracy started to show interest in collecting weapons and armour. Aristocratic and municipal armouries were built, which were strictly guarded and their contents precisely registered. It was typical to have the weapons arranged according to their type. Shotguns with ammunition were stored separately in the gun rooms.
The cult of family gun rooms developed at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. The most significant ones included the armoury of Emperor Maximilian I (1459 – 1519) in Innsbruck and the royal armoury in Madrid, which was founded by Maximilian’s son Charles V (1500 – 1558). One of the oldest dynastic collections was the Austrian royal collection of weapons in the Vienna Hofburg, founded in the 15th century. Possibly, only the monarch’s collection in Dresden could compete with this Viennese collection in quality and quantity at that time.
A significant collection of weapons is stored in the Museo de la Real Armería in Madrid, which, similarly, like the Dresden collection at the Zwinger, contains many splendid weapons dating from the 13th century. A famous collection of historical weapons can be also found in Paris, in the Musée de l´Armée at the Invalides complex. Among Europe’s most important original collections of weapons, are those at the Tower of London
The town armoury in Plzeň, which is part of the Museum of Western Bohemia in Plzeň, and the collection at the Konopiště Castle are among the most significant historical weapon collections in the Czech Republic. Only a very few original collections have been preserved in Slovakia. The preserved medieval feudal residences, such as Krásna Hôrka or Orava castles, maintain only a few historical weapons of their original armouries, which are now installed in the so-called knight’s halls at the castles. A larger collection of weapons and armour from an original armoury is assembled at the Červený Kameň Castle, where it is presented as part of the museum.
Cupid and Psyché – two paintings from Hlohovec
Two large paintings from an unknown painter, dating to 1863, used to adorn the manor house in Koplotovce near Hlohovec. The then owner, Timothy Frideczky de Kaplath et Csenede (1818 – 1898) put them there in the year of their origin. His son Barnabas reconstructed the family manor house in 1901, which later ended up in the hands of daughter Felicia. After her displacement to England in 1948, the house became the property of Britain and only later of the Czechoslovak state. The state set up various public institutions there and a small part was rented to son Ivan, who entrusted some of the original equipment to the Homeland Museum in Hlohovec. After he died in 1999, his relatives decided to leave the aforementioned paintings in the museum’s deposit until 2008, when they did not attempt to sell them. The Homeland Museum in Hlohovec ordered copies of these paintings capturing Cupid and Psyche and as a result, they can still be admired at the museum’s exhibition.
An unknown artist painted the mythological story of Cupid and Psyche on the Hlohovec paintings in two scenes, which have the identical painter’s brushwork. The style came from the sensuous movement of the European neoclassicism that culminated at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. Inadequate artistic portrayal of the scenes could mean that the unknown painter only copied them. The latest information also confirms this speculation, as the artwork, based on which the first painting was created, was discovered. It is an oil painting by the German painter and professor of the Berlin academy Edward Steinbrück (1802 – 1882). The year of its origin is unknown. It was initially kept at the Museum of Emperor Frederick, today’s Kulturhistorisches Museum in Magdeburg. It was destroyed during the Second World War, but the museum’s documentation has preserved its black-and-white photograph. The artwork that inspired the second Hlohovec painting has not yet been found.
By comparison, we can assume that the predecessors of Steinbrück’s painting composition of Cupid and Psyche could be either the painting with the same name by Angelica Kauffmann (1792), a Swiss painter who belonged to the intellectuals grouped around Winckelmann, or the painting by Rudolph Suhrlandt (1809), the representative of the German Nazarenes style and painter at the court of the Duke of Mecklenburg Frederick Francis I. Both paintings were created in Rome and could have inspired Steinbrück in many ways.
From midwife to birth assistant
Obstetrics, as a clinical medical specialty, has undergone a long tradition and experienced many generations of birth assistants, or midwives. In Bratislava, they worked independently for several centuries, later their activities were controlled by the town’s physician. His function was created by the overall reform in public health service in the second half of the 18th century. Surgeons, gradually began to specialise in midwifery. They progressed from wound-healers, who had to have an academic education since the Enlightenment period. Their help was needed with difficult and complicated deliveries. The collections at the Bratislava City Museum contain a copy of a vocational certificate for Rudolf Poor from 1864, issued by the Bratislava surgical panel. The town’s physician Gottfried Mayr and two surgeons August Rigele and Stephen Setéth confirmed its authenticity. Their names along with other birth assistants are documented in the town’s directory issued for 1858.
The start of industrialisation in Bratislava (building of factories, migration of inhabitants for work and also their pauperisation) deepened the social polarisation of individual classes mainly in the second half of the 19th century. It also revealed the unhappy medical and social status of the children’s population, chiefly the high birth and infant death rate. The state and communal administration had therefore tried to introduce modern forms of institutionalised health care, the result of which was an establishment of the Royal Midwifery School, which was built in 1873 as part of the maternity ward of the Country’s Hospital (1864) in Bratislava. Renowned physician, surgeon, obstetrician, head physician of the maternity ward of the Country’s Hospital in Bratislava and first director of the midwifery school, John Ambro (1827 – 1890), had significantly influenced the school’s development. He wrote a textbook for the Bratislava midwifery school’s students in Slovak – Book About Midwifery for Midwives.
Law No. 14/1876 regulated the education and preparation of midwives until 1918. Apart from Bratislava, the territory of today’s Slovakia during the times of monarchy also had midwifery schools in Nitra, Rimavská Sobota and Košice. Only two schools for midwives remained active in Slovakia after 1919, in Bratislava and Košice. The midwives in Bratislava (the school was renamed the Czechoslovak State School for Midwives) were professionally trained in five-month courses under the supervision of the State Hospital’s physicians. Law No. 200/1928 reformed the education of midwives and established a standard title of “birth assistant”. The Bratislava school was transformed into the State Institute for Education and Training of Birth Assistants. The courses lasted ten months. Seventy-to-eighty certified assistants worked annually in Bratislava between 1928 and 1937. These were also the pioneers of female emancipation in our country.
Zuzana Zvarová – Miroslav Matejka – Štefan Oriško – Tomáš Janura
Chapel of St. Anne in Beluša
The Chapel of St. Anne stands south-east of the Roman-Catholic Church of St. Elisabeth, which was built in the western Slovak municipality of Beluša in the first third of the 17th century. The chapel was built before the parish church and its origin was closely connected with the establishment of the Beluša village between 1330 and 1369. In that time, Beluša was part of the Trenčín Castle domain owned by the Anjou family. Based on the archival research we assume that the chapel was built as a parish residence between 1330 and 1332, or shortly before that. Since the 1530s, Beluša belonged to the members of the Protestant family of Ostrosic until 1670. Then, the royal chamber and Count Siegfried Breuner managed the estate. After the count’s death, the estate went into the hands of the Königseggs, who owned it until the beginning of the 20th century.
The chapel is a one-nave building with semi-circular closure of the sanctuary. The entrance on the western façade leads through a stone gothic portal. The chapel’s nave has a wooden timbered ceiling from the 1960s and the sanctuary is covered with a barrel vault. A masonry altar table stands at the end of the sanctuary. The nave is illuminated with two slit windows in the southern section and one little window in the northern wall. The windows have no glass. The saddle roof on the western side is finished with a masonry gable. The chapel’s facades are smooth, only the western façade has a stone portal in the centre. Nothing of the original mobiliari has been preserved.
The monument research divided the chapel’s history into four construction phases. The first one comes from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. The chapel’s ground plan is a single-nave, consisting of a short, more or less square nave and almost semi-circular eastern closure. It can be the result of the masonry technology and building construction, where both parts grow into a unified formation. Its style seems to come from the post-classical gothic period around 1300, which fits the Central European artistic context.
Fluorite in the 15th – 16th century painting in Slovakia
The use of fluorite as pigment is connected with the mining of silver, copper and other elements. Since its deposits in Slovakia appear only sporadically (we mainly talk of mineralogical findings), it is important to mention deposits of fluorite, used as an addition to precious metals, mainly in Bavaria (Wölsendorf, Naburg). These used to provide sufficient production of this dark-purple coloured mineral in 1470 – 1570. The extinction of a large number of ore mines in Central Europe at the end of the 16th century could be the reason why this mineral was replaced with other pigments.
Fluorite as pigment was identified for the first time, on a wall painting and polychromy of wooden sculptures from Tirol from 1480 – 1515. Later it was detected on several works dated from the turn of the 15th and 16th century.
The use of fluorite pigment in the territory of Slovakia was proven for the first time at the end of 2006. It was used in dark-purple colour parts on the painting and polychromy of wing altars, table paintings and polychrome wooden carvings coming mainly from the Spiš region at the turn of the 15th and 16th century.
Apart from the optical microscopy in traversing and incident light, the analysis of purple pigments also used the Analytical Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy with an EDS Detector. The Selective Electron Diffraction was used to identify the pigment’s crystallographic structure. The element structure as well as the characteristic optical, morphologic and crystallographic features of the examined purple pigment explicitly confirmed the presence of the mineral fluorite pigment – calcium fluoride CaF2.
One of the works, where the presence of fluorite mineral had been detected, was the side wing altar of St. Nicholas from the Church of St. Catherine in Veľká Lomnica, dated to the last decade of the 15th century. At the same time, in 2006, a research of the side wing altar of St. Nicholas from the Church of St Margaret in Mlynica, dated to the turn of the 15th – 16th century, was taking place. Later, the use of this pigment was also detected in other works. In 2007, it was found on the wing altar of St. Catherine from the Turany Church (1490 – 1500), which originally came from Spišský Štvrtok. In 2009, fluorite was found on table paintings of the side wing altar of Metercia from St. Martin’s Church in Lipany, dated to 1526.
It is assumed that this pigment has had a much larger use in Slovak territory, which is the subject of a systematic research focusing on exact localisation of art-historical objects and specification of their historical technologies.
Pálffy manor house with the Névery coat of arms
The literature cites several interesting profane buildings in Bratislava-Rača. The manor house at today’s Alsterova Street was built in the middle of the 18th century and until its extinction at the turn of 2010/2011 (it was not a listed building), a family coat of arms with a symbol of a deer decorated it. The coat of arms was incorrectly connected to the Pálffy family, who had owned properties in Rača until the 20th century.
In the second half of the 19th century, around 1855 to 1880, for at least a quarter of the year – the manor house belonged to the less famous noble family of Névery. The proof of their habitation in the manor house was the preserved family coat of arms (now undergoing restoration). Alex (Elek) and Joseph Névery (Gyulavarsándi) received the aristocratic title in 1789, which was confirmed by the aristocratic and armal document of King Leopold II from 1791 (the family coat of arms used to have two jewels at that time). The document authenticating the predicate was issued in 1800. King Francis I presented Charles Névery with the baron title in 1845. Charles Névery acquired a donation for Gyulavarsánd municipality and based on that he started to use the predicate – von Gyulavarsánd. The baron line of the family soon died out because Karol did not leave a male descendant.
The monographs about Rača and other literature mention Baron Charles Névery (†1871), his wife Wilhelmina (born Baroness Fries; † 1880) coming from Schwechat and their daughter Wilhelmina († 1855) as donators in several places. Mainly, Baroness W. Névery remained in the memory of the municipality’s inhabitants – a housing estate and one street in Rača were named after her, Barónka (Baroness). The last heraldic memory of the Néverys is their family coat of arms, preserved at its original place on the decoration of the Rača cemetery’s central cross, which until recently had been incorrectly associated with the Pálffy family.