Martin Bóna – Monika Tihányiová
The oldest image of Muráň castle
The historical images of castles and fortresses help to illustrate their original looks, as they were changed by younger, modern day reconstructions and many are just ruins today. The veduta from 1549, which depicts the battle for Muráň castle, is the oldest image of this castle known so far. It is stored in the graphic collections of the Albertina Museum in Vienna and apart from the authentic interpretation of the late-medieval castle, it also depicts in detail the period of siege by the royal army of Ferdinand I Habsburg.
The graphics is the work of German geometer and cartographer Augustin Hirschvogel (1503 – 1553), the son of Nuremberg’s window-pane maker Veit Hirschvogel. He settled in Vienna in 1544 and worked as a surveyor for the imperial court. He helped to map almost the whole of south-eastern Europe. The Albertina graphic art collections contain 375 works of Hirschvogel, who is one of the artists of the so-called Danube Region School. It was most probably the imperial court that commissioned Hirschvogel to create the etching of the Muráň castle during his stay in Vienna, as the besieging of the castle, (which was occupied by the robber baron Matej Bašo in 1549), was one of the largest military actions of King Ferdinand I Habsburg.
Muráň castle was built by the Hungarian monarch Béla IV shortly after the Mongolian plundering of the Hungarian kingdom in 1241 – 1242, as there was a fear that the aggressors might return. They chose to erect it on the hill of Cigánka (translated as Gypsy-woman), at the edge of the Muráň platau, which at its 935.4 metres dominates a vast area. The remote locality and difficult access secured the castle’s refuge character, making it safe and unconquerable. At the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle was left abandoned for a long time.
The Muráň castle underwent several reconstructions in the last third of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, which made it into a well-fortified late-medieval residence. On his veduta from 1549, A. Hirschvogel captured the castle hill as well as the adjacent Šiance hill (1,042 metres above sea level) from the north-western access route. It was from this same aspect the castle was later depicted by younger vedute artists in the 17th and 18th centuries. Back then, Muráň was one the largest castles in Upper Hungary, with dimensions around 355 by 132 metres. The pictured panorama of the castle did not reveal its inner structure. Based on the later graphic interpretations, the castle complex consisted of several palaces, military units, farmsteads and gardens. A future terrain research could reveal their possible medieval origin.
Mária Čelková – Mikuláš Čelko
Construction works of Josef Pircker in Banská Štiavnica and surroundings
The masonry master and builder Josef Pircker (1728 – 1792), originally from Tirol, became the Banská Štiavnica townsman in 1765. In the second half of the 18th century, he worked on constructions in Vyhne, Banská Štiavnica, Štefultov and near surroundings. He designed, built and reconstructed several buildings and facades in the style of baroque classicism, including churches, burgher’s houses, a town hall, brewery in Vyhne and Hodruša, salt office, parish house, orphanage and hospital. He worked for the Catholic Church, Banská Štiavnica council, mining (Berggericht) and Hungarian chambers, as well as wealthy citizens. As a leading builder of his period, Pircker also helped to plan the reconstruction of the Jesuit seat for the Piarist order after 1773.
The State Archives of Banská Bystrica, the branch of Banská Štiavnica and State Central Mining Archives keep records about J. Pircker’s arrival to Banská Štiavnica, his acceptance as a townsman and guild’s mason, and his property and family situation. The preserved project plans document his prolific construction activity within a wide region.
The archival documents also record the financing and costs for reconstruction of the representation house on 8 Holy Trinity Square, which Pircker bought in September 1777, after thirteen years of a successful career in Banská Štiavnica. Today, the house is the Gallery of Jozef Kollár. Pircker’s other property included vineyards and garden near the town lake (or tajch, an artificially built water reservoir), cellars and wine press, horses and cattle. He also owned significant shares in a mining business, gold and silver items and money. Pircker liked target shooting at the town gun-range and the inventory of his property shows that he owned several guns. Also noteworthy is the collection of items documenting his bookcase, artistic works and house furnishings.
After 27 years of working in Banská Štiavnica and its surroundings, Josef Pircker began implementing his new knowledge of Italian and German classicistic architecture into his works, which are now significant historical monuments of Banská Štiavnica, Vyhne and Štefultov. They form a part of this locality of the world’s cultural heritage that was included on the UNESCO list in December 1993.
Brotherhood of the Most Holy Trinity at the Trinitarian Convent in Bratislava
The Trinitarians, who came to Bratislava in 1697, invited by the Archbishop of Esztergom Leopold Kollonich, were the fourth mendicant order that settled in the city. The mendicant orders were not allowed to own any property and their existence depended on the charity and support of local citizens. Individual orders tried to distinguish themselves by trying to specifically target the religious needs of their believers, among who were the religious brotherhoods (confraternities). These volunteer groups of laymen and churchmen originated with the aim to nurture the religious cult and prepare their members for death and life after it. They regularly held masses for the souls of their living as well as dead members, which made them significant promoters of baroque catholic commemorative culture. The confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity, founded by the Trinitarians at their Bratislava Convent in 1709, rewarded the religious activities with a defined number of exceptions, which seemed as the best motivation for entering the brotherhood.
The so-called registry or album from 1709 – 1783 recorded the members of the brotherhood. It contained the symbols of the Holy Trinity and the founders of the Trinitarian order, as well as drawings of coats of arms of the most significant, aristocratic members of the confraternity. An important group of the brotherhood were the counsellors and lower officers of the Hungarian Chamber and Governor’s Council and their families, as well as other employees of the royal offices in town, members of the town senate, rich bourgeoisie, notaries, doctors, builders, wealthy salesmen and craftsmen.
Only a few written documents and little prints of speeches were preserved to document the religious life of the brothers. This included the prayer book Thesaurus Desiderabilis Archi-confraternitatis Sanctissimae Trinitatis, which was repeatedly issued by the Vienna Trinitarian Convent, and lists of the brotherhood’s exceptions that were published a few times by the Bratislava monastery. With the help of these documents, the author of this article tried to illustrate the spiritual life of the community, its religious practices and public presentation, as well its most prominent members. The Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity at the Bratislava Convent ceased to exist in 1783, along with the Trinitarian order as a result of the enlightenment reforms of Joseph II.
Expense book of the Košice butchers’ guild from 1763 – 1788
Regarding their number and wealth, the butchers were among the first tradesmen who acquired guild statutes. In Bratislava, the first guild of butchers existed from 1376, in Košice from 1452. The guilds also played an important role in defending fortified towns (they were in charge of the Košice town western bastions since 1557) and extinguishing fires. After the guilds ceased to exist in 1872, most of the archival material ended in collection funds of archives and museums. This was also the case with the expense book Liber errogationis from 1763 – 1788, which documents the butchers’ guild in Košice.
The expense book of the Košice butchers in the town’s Eastern Slovak Museum, is written in Hungarian and has 46 numbered pages, with expenses recorded up to page 45. The first entry is from 20th January 1763 and the last from 26th March 1788. The records are written by several different writers on hand-made paper with brown ink. The writing is quite legible. The book dimensions are 168mm x 208mm. The binding is made of cardboard combined with pork leather, and strings are attached to tie the book.
The analysis and interpretation of individual records explain the financial functioning of the guild, in this case handling the expenses, in the second half of the 18th century. The book takes the form of a diary, with exact dates and money transaction recorded. As a rule, each calendar year started with the elections of the guild’s leaders and the first entry in the book is the list of the selected masters. Then follows the records of individual expenses – such as symbolical fees to the guild-master’s wife and guild’s notary, payments to herdsmen, carrier and priest, remunerations for burials, fines for deceitful behaviour and fees for the guild’s members who encountered problems, debts or jail.
The incomes were recorded in a different book. When comparing the income and expense books of the Košice butchers from 1788 – 1871, it is obvious that they had long been in profit. The guild’s incomes well exceeded the expenses. The main earnings were the membership fees, fines and debt payments from various people. The book of the Košice butchers from 1763 – 1788 is an interesting and valuable source that presents the guild not only as a social but also as economic organisation.
First Trnava photo studio
The Western Slovak Museum in Trnava works on a project that researches Trnava photo studios that existed between 1860 and 1950. The project started in 2014 and is expected to finish in 2018. Probably the first photographer, who had his studio in Trnava, was Stephen Dohnányi. He ran it under the name Dohnányi István since 1860, but it could originate a year earlier. The work of his photo studio is documented with several photographs found in the old albums of the museum’s archives and a private collection, as these are portrait business cards printed on cardboard with simple information at the back saying Dohnányi István, Fényképész, Nagy-Szombatban.
Dohnányi’s wife, Leopoldina, also took pictures. We don’t know yet, if the two of them ever worked as photographers at the same time, but the fact is that Dohnányi stopped working as a photographer sometime between 1865 and 1869 and the studio was then run by his wife. She signed her photographs as Leopoldine von Dohnányi or L. Dohnányi, L. v. Dohnányi, Dohnányi L. She used several identical furniture settings like her husband, which means she took the studio with the inventory after him. There are more preserved photographs of her work; forty nine are documented in the collections of the Western Museum in Trnava. This sample can help us evaluate not only the artistic aspect of her work but also the development of advertising and quality of photographs.
There is almost the same number of photographs of full figure portraits in a stylized interior with furniture as there are bust portraits. She uses the studio staffage more often when photographing men. Also preserved are two untypical photos of women in folk costumes, which in the larger cultural context of Trnava life at the turn of the 1860s and 1870s reflect patriotic tendencies.
Memorial of Andrej Radlinský in Kúty
Nationally aware priest Andrej (Andrew) Radlinský (1817 – 1879), had been the pastor in Kúty, in western Slovakia, since 1861. During this time, he acquired the renewed right to hold markets for Kúty, launched a reading club with a library and helped Kúty to be the first municipality to obtain membership at the national cultural heritage and research institution of Matica slovenská. At the top of his activities was the establishment of the Society of Saint Adalbert in Trnava in 1870. The society decided to dedicate a monument to him on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its origin.
Several financial collections were organised to accumulate the money for the monument. The society decided to build it in 1928. Sculptor Andrej Kováčik offered to create the monument free of charge. Only the material had to be purchased. They were contemplating travertine, Carrara marble or quite expensive bronze. In the end it was made of white sandstone. The monument represents a group of three figures – Andrej Radlinský standing, an elderly man sitting with an open book and a young girl standing by his side.
In spring 1930, the building of the monument ignited a heated discussion in the newspapers. People criticized the selected location for the monument, saying that the village environment was not suitable for such a monumental work and that it should be placed in Bratislava. The sculptor was most blamed for the cost of the monument’s material and its installation. The monument was completed in summer 1930 and also because of the discussion in the media, the building inspection was organised to take place on July 18, 1930. The report of the inspection detailed the monument’s shortages, such as placing the sculptures on a low pedestal made of non-quality fake stone and some parts of the sculptures having the wrong proportions.
In spite of that, the monument was left unchanged and ceremoniously unveiled on the 20th of July in 1930, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the society’s founding. A large number of significant people attended the ceremony. The monument of Andrej Radlinský, which has survived the totalitarian era in its place, is an important dominant of the village as well as the whole Záhorie region in western Slovakia up to this date.
Album of Anton Brecher
The Eastern Slovak Museum in Košice held an exhibition, entitled These Were Our Grandfathers: The First World War and Eastern Slovakia, from 27th June till 7th December 2014. It was dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the war. Before the exhibition opened, a media campaign was run from March 2013, through which the museum asked the public to cooperate and share various materials related to this event. Fifty nine people answered the museum’s call. One of the borrowed items was a unique album with 594 photographs from the First World War that belonged to Anton Brecher. Mrs Judita Bódyová, granddaughter of the album’s owner, lent it to the museum in March 2014.
Anton Brecher was born on 6th of May in 1888 in Zlatá Idka, in the mining family. He studied to become a salesman and since 1909 lived in Košice, where he married Margita Lőrincová in August 1912. At the age of 26, on 3rd august 1914, he joined the active military service at the Eastern Front as a soldier and returned to Slovakia in November 1918 as sergeant. He survived the whole war without serious injury. He died in Košice on 27th September 1964.
Anton Brecher liked art. He painted a few aquarelles and oil-paintings for the family. His main hobby, however, was amateur photography. Apart from the aforementioned album, his heritage also included eleven postcards with a war theme. The album is a valuable source of visual as well as factual information from the Front. The texts and annotations are in the Hungarian language, except for a few terms in German. The first page shows a composition of artillery fights, which Brecher painted after the war in 1923. Almost every photograph or a set of photographs are annotated with the title of the event, activity, building or person, in a nice neat writing. He then specified the location (town, village, river, or mountain) and date (month and year). The album’s data is of a great documentation value, based on which we can roughly map the activity and movement of the army unit.
The photographs capture the soldier’s service at the Front, their daily life, entertainment and free activities, military technology, training, bunkers, trenches, barriers, traffic infrastructure, units’ transitions, accommodation, work of military administration and visits of high state officials, as well as the way of living and clothes of the local inhabitants, architecture of various places and natural panoramas. The places captured in the album from February 1914 to February 1918 can be now found on the territory of the south-western Ukraine, and those from March 1918 to the end of the war are in northern Italy.
Pracháreň bastion in Levoča
The bastion Pracháreň (Gunpowder Deposit/Mill) is part of the town’s fortification of Levoča monument reservation, in its north-western corner. In the past, it was called Gross Scharfeck, double bastion (duplicata), cloth bastion (Tutmacher Turm) and horse’s mill (Pferde Mühle). The recent architectural-historical research has analysed the construction development and revealed new information that helped to specify the fortification, dating, as well as its typology and historical context.
Pracháreň had an important strategic role in defending the access route from the north of Kežmarok, from Poland. The first bastion construction had a passage on the terrace level between the fortification and parkan wall. The construction and period development of the bastion is a textbook example of how to build a fortified system of a town. The construction of bastions (or defence towers) probably started in the 13th century, based on the seals of the Spiš Saxons, which depict towers of a protective character with a battlement on top.
Compared to the other bastions of the town fortification, Pracháreň has also preserved some older authentic features, original stone parts and wooden ceilings. Especially valuable are the construction parts of a horse mill discovered in the interior, as a remnant of a dry mill. The name pracháreň, which has been used until today, can reflect the fact that there was a mill for gun powder, or it can refer to a later period, 19th century, when it was used for storing guns and gun powder.
The research has shown that the oldest part of the fortification was the inbuilt fortification wall with a battlement and walkway that copied the terrain outline, the wall’s curve, similar to the Spiš castle fortification from the first half of the 13th century. The parkan bastion was secondarily added to it in order to connect the eastern and western walls.
Zdeněk Farkaš – Igor Choma
Medieval castle in Bernolákovo
Castle Čeklís, which is only a ruin, is a little known medieval fortification in south-western Slovakia. Its remains can be found on the western outskirts of the Bernolákovo municipality, in Senec district, between the original Roman Church of St. Stephan the King and the recently reconstructed baroque manor house, built in 1714 – 1722 by the regional judge and Croatian ban Joseph Eszterházy. Until recently, only an artificially built hill with the Hungarian name Várdomb (castle hill) has implied of its existence, on the top of which stands a round water tank built of bricks from the beginning of the 20th century. Only the remains of the stone walls on the western slope, with low arched opening believed to be the entrance to the former fortification, pointed to the older origin of the mound.
The castle was originally built on an important, strategic place but with poor defensive position, on the edge of an undulated terrain of the Trnava table placed higher than the nearby Danubian Lowland with the river Black Water by around 29 metres. The natural terrain thus only protected the fortification from the south-western side. The castle’s safety, apart from the walls, was reinforced by the moats around its perimeter. Today, the only visible one is the moat that divides the castle from the nearby church area.
The castle Čeklís is first mentioned in the known archive materials in 1323. The first specific mention relates to the local castellan Abraham Rufus, who was forced to accept the castle from monarch Karol Robert in exchange for the more significant and strategically important estate in Šintava. In 1392, the castle became the property of King Sigismund of Luxembourg. Later it was owned by the counts of Rohanovce (Rozgony) and counts of Svätý Jur and Pezinok. However, because of the mutual disagreements between the owners and armed struggles, the written evidence from 1511 only mentions Čeklís castle as a ruin (dirutum castrum) and in 1523 as destroyed (castrum nostram dirutum Cheklez).
Since 2010, the Čeklís Castle Civic Association has worked on exploring the history of the castle in close cooperation with the Slovak National Museum-Archaeological Museum in Bratislava and the Regional Monuments Board. The project is financially supported by Slovakia’s Culture Ministry and several other organisations and enthusiasts. During the five researching seasons, they managed to expose less than a quarter of the assumed castle area, mainly the northern part that faces the manor house. The terrain works have uncovered interesting facts about the constructional development of this medieval fortification as well as about the prehistoric settlement of Bernolákovo.
Christ of Master Paul of Levoča in Šariš Gallery
The Šariš Gallery in Prešov presented to the public, three late-gothic wooden carvings from the workshop of Master Paul of Levoča in July 2014. The Roman-Catholic Church of St. Nicholas Concathedral in Prešov lent the works to the gallery on a long-term basis.
Based on the carving quality, generosity of the conception and artistic value, many art historians-medievalists consider the three Prešov sculptures to be the work of Master Paul of Levoča. Currently, no Slovak collection institution (with the exception of the Šariš Museum in Bardejov, which stores the so-called Little Calvary) owns an original work of Master Paul. The Slovak National Gallery has a few quality woodcarvings, which were made in Master Paul’s workshop, but not by him. The deposited works became the most valuable exhibits of the permanent exposition of sacral art of the 15th – 19th centuries, which opened at the Šariš Gallery in September 2013.
The most valuable sculpture of the three is the Sitting Christ, also known as Resting Christ or Meditating Christ, from around 1520, with a perfectly preserved polychrome decoration. The virtuously carved crucifix, in literature called Crucified from Prešov, also comes from the same period and discloses the Master’s inspiration by south-German (Nurnberg) art. The last of the group is quite a large figure of Archangel Michael from around 1510 – 1515. All three sculptures exhibit features typical of the Master’s style, primarily the melancholic-lyric face expression and decorative, shell-like folds on robes.
The workshop of Master Paul of Levoča made sculptures and altars not only for Spiš but also other surrounding regions. The amount of these works in Šariš makes some researchers think that there was a Šariš “branch” of his workshop, or one of his disciples. This, however, has not been proven. But it is known that Master Paul owned a house in Prešov from 1522 until at least 1527. Not all of his works preserved in Prešov were made there, but were evidently created for Prešov. They are remains of the original medieval church equipment, which was almost fully demolished during the battles between Protestants and Catholics at the end of the 17th century.
The Sitting Christ was not part of the altar decoration. It was a work used for private prayers. The author of the article compares the meditating Christ with the pitiful-looking Job, as a prefiguration, for instance in the work of the Upper-Rhenish woodcarver Hans Weiditz from around 1500. Paul of Levoča, however, could have sought inspiration in other sculptures or paintings of southern Germany or Lesser Poland.
Replica of Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges at Červený Kameň
The Ministry of Culture transferred several historical artefacts from the House of Slovak Writers at the Budmerice manor house to the Slovak National Museum-Museum of Červený Kameň in 2013 and 2014. Among them was a bronze sculpture of Madonna and Child. Though it is a cast from the turn of the 19th and 20th century, the sculpture immediately captures the attention with its beauty and perfection. It is an authentic replica of Michelangelo’s original Madonna of Bruges, which is located at the side chapel of the Church of Notre Dame in Bruges. Outside Italy, the only other places with Michelangelo works are the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in Leningrad. This is the only work that made it over the Alps while the artist was still alive.
Michelangelo (1475, Florence – 1564, Rome) made the sculpture of white marble in 1504, around the same time he made the more famous David or Pieta, which is located in the Cathedral of St. Peter. The Madonna statue came to the Church of the Virgin Mary in Bruges as a present by the wealthy family of the Mouscorns, who bought it in 1506. For donating it to the church in their native town, they asked for permission to have their family tomb in the church.
The bronze moulds were cast from an old plaster form, which was made according to the Belgian original in the 1930s. This form was the property of the Florentine marble studio Valecchi e Bargelli, but it is not known if the company made it in the 1930s, or acquired an older piece from the Gruet foundry in Paris. Sculptor Ferdinando Marinelli, the owner of Fonderia Artistica (Artistic Foundry) in Florence, took over the studio’s form in 1968, after it finished the business.
Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli is the Italy’s oldest and most famous artistic bronze foundry, working since 1905. Each of its cast of an artistic work is labelled with the foundry’s name, sequence number and casting date. These attributes are not found on the cast at the Červený Kameň museum. Two other, older bronze casts made using original 19th century forms are known: one from 1907 in the Church of St. Cuthbert in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the other one from 1889 in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York. In 1872, Belgium gave permission to make the plaster form of the Bruges Madonna for only one cast. This form is in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The bronze copy of the Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child was most probably the original inventory of the Count Keglevich’s manor house in Voderady. After the Second World War, the National Cultural Commission collected the artistic works from aristocratic residences in Slovakia and transported them first to Bratislava and then, in the first half of the 1950s to the Červený Kameň Castle. Later, the sculpture ended at the House of Slovak Writers in the nearby Budmerice manor house. In 2014, it was again transported to the Červený Kameň Castle along with other artworks, after the Budmerice manor house was closed.
Wooden articular church in Necpaly
The Evangelical wooden articular churches are a unique and non-recurring phenomenon in the sacral architecture of Slovakia. They reflect the idea of reformation, which had gradually transformed into their shape, substance, disposition and artistic representation. Apart from the well-known churches in Kežmarok, Leštiny, Hronsek, Istebné and Svätý Kríž, the archival sources also mention long gone and almost forgotten churches, among which was the wooden articular church in Necpaly.
It’s distinctive look was the result of ongoing technical problems of an older wooden sacral construction, as well as an attempt to increase its capacity and renewing the liturgical use of the valuable, over 10-metre high renaissance altar Speculum Justificationis from 1610 – 1611. The altar was originally situated in the Chapel of St. Michael at Orava Castle, thanks to the iconic leader of the reformation in the Hungarian Kingdom, Palatine George Thurzo (1567 – 1616).
The twenty sixth article of the Sopron Congress in 1681 granted permission for Evangelists to build new churches, parishes and schools, but only in specific places. One of them was Necpaly, where they built the first articular church at the beginning of the 18th century. Between 1749 and 1751, the existing church underwent major constructional changes and consequently, it was decided to rebuild it completely in order to maximize the capacity and ground plan of the church.
The renowned Thurzo altar came to the new Necplay articular church in 1752. Today, we can only guess what the Necpaly articular church looked like. No period records were preserved that could at least partially describe its look and architecture. A document dated 24th October 1774 was found in the collection of the Esztergom Arch-bishopric at the archives of the Diocesan Centre of John Paul II in Banská Bystrica, which shows two simple ground plans with basic church dimensions (around 21 x 18 m). These drawings indicate that it was an “oratory” of an octagonal shape, which was unique in Slovakia. A cemetery was situated above the church, which continued to the top of the adjacent slope. The cadastral map of this period shows two smaller masonry constructions. One might have served the burials and the other could be a belfry. The whole area was enclosed by a wooden fence. A brick church school and parish with wooden farmsteads stood nearby.