Manor house of Görgeys in Toporec
The almost destroyed manor house in the municipality of Toporec (Kežmarok district, eastern Slovakia) tells of the dramatic fate of the significant Upper Hungarian family of Görgey. The locality was probably inhabited in the 12th, or beginning of the 13th century. The Görgey family, originally from Saxony, established its position in the region in the second half of the 13th century. Ladislaus I invited them to Hungary during the first colonization waves coming from the west. The first known family member who settled in Spiš was Arnold I (1050 – 1130). The king granted him properties and a noble title in 1092. The family acquired its surname Görgey from the municipality of Spišský Hrhov, which Ladislaus IV donated to Count Eliáš (Elijah) in 1278 and which became their first family residence. The second, equally mentioned family residence was Toporec, established in 1293. The family members were leading representatives of the Spiš Saxons, they worked as county administrators, palatines (sovereign representatives), army officers and businessmen. The most significant one was General Artúr (Arthur) Görgey, the chief of the Honved armies during the 1848 – 1849 uprising, who was born in Toporec.
The manor house in Toporec is part of a large noble residence situated on the municipality’s northern edge, above the road joining the valley of the Poprad River with the municipality of Červený Kláštor near the Dunajec River. It is a type of a smaller, representative aristocratic residence, with no preserved fortified architecture mentioned in the family chronicle (wall, moat). The recent architectural-historical research of the manor house confirmed that the original construction, possibly from the 15th century, was a castle. It is also probable that the construction originated even earlier, in the 14th century. This is suggested by the fragments of gothic ribs secondarily built into the vaults of the building’s ground floor. This original construction lasted for 200 to 300 years.
In the first half of the 17th century, at the latest, the manor house was radically rebuilt into a late-renaissance style. The new, two-storied structure had a U-shaped ground plan with an almost square courtyard of 7.7m x 7.3m. The first floor contained eight rooms; the second had one or two rooms less. The fortifications with stone walls and semi-circular bastions with gunports at every 12 to 15 metres were also built during that time.
The baroque-classicistic modifications of the manor house in 1770 mainly concerned the facades. The existing layouts of individual floors were totally respected. The interior saw the main changes in ceilings and vaults. Several vaults were decorated with a painting and stucco technique, which is only preserved in fragments. The manor house underwent other insignificant modifications at the beginning of the 20th century. The Görgeys lived in the southern part of the first and second floors until 1947.
Testament of goldsmith John Szilassy
The Levoča goldsmith John Szilassy (1704 – 1782) is one of the most significant representatives of the modern goldsmith’s trade in Slovakia. He worked on the verge of late baroque, but his works were largely influenced by the appearing rococo style. He created more than a hundred liturgical items, mainly monstrances, goblets, ciboria and pax instruments, often decorated with enamel medallions that depicted figural scenes from the Bible, saints’ biographies and everyday scenes. Many of them are still used during the church masses.
Szilassy’s works are quite well-known in the fine-arts literature, but the same cannot be said about his personal life, his family and the environment in which he lived and worked. The records from the registrar’s office confirm that he was born in Rožňava. This fact is further confirmed by the record from his funeral in Levoča on 9th May 1782 (gebührtig von Rosznau). The exact date of his death (6th May 1782) is recorded in the protocol of the goldsmith’s guild.
The records in the Levoča archives also register John Szilassy’s property capital. He acquired property by marrying Catharina Reuter in 1728, gaining burgher’s privileges in Levoča in 1729 and by gradually purchasing land and buildings. The increase in his property is also evident from the calculated tax (3 Rheinish golden and 17 denar coins), which made him the 18th richest citizen in Levoča. This consequently raised his authority and respectability in the town, where he held the position of the goldsmith’s guild-master from 1747 until his death.
On 18th April 1774, the Szilasi couple (John Szilassy and his second wife Catharina) wrote down their last will. This has not yet been researched, even though it is in the processed part of the Levoča Town Council’s fund. The testament, written in the usual formal form, offers lots of information about the life and property of the famous goldsmith. It confirms his biography facts gained from other sources, which reveal quite a devout relationship with his daughter from the first marriage and his effort to preserve the goldsmith’s trade in the family. On the other hand, it presents Szilassy as an artist – painter and discloses his close relationship with a generation younger goldsmith Liedemann. This most likely reflected the fact that Szilassy lost his only son due to an early death.
The document contains John Szilassy’s authentic signature with a stamp, and the name of his wife (Catharina Szilassy gebohrne Frühaufin) written by one of the will’s witnesses and signed by her with a simple cross. Levoča’s reeve Samuel Scherffel, senator and the will’s executor Ján Hauser with another will’s executor John Reich Sr. acknowledged the contents of the testament with their signatures and stamps.
Hana Kližanová – Jana Oršulová
Portrait of emperor’s doctor
The fine arts collections in the SNM-Historic Museum have kept a representative portrait of a man from the 17th century for decades, without knowing who he was. Only the medallion on his chest with the effigy of Leopold I suggested that he was someone close to the emperor, someone in his service.
The portrayed nobleman was identified thanks to the family coat of arms with the sign and his monogram N. G. B. D. W. The research showed that the man in the picture is Baron Nikolaus Wilhelm Beckers von Walhorn (Wallhorn) und Schönkirchen (1630 – 1705). He was the senior personal physician to Emperor Leopold I and an imperial adviser. He came from Wallhorn in the Spanish part of the Netherlands.
In 1659 N. W. Beckers married a rich widow of the Secret State Council’s main intendant, Anna Barbara Huber born Hasling († 1679). This marriage helped him enter the upper echelon of society. Archduke Leopold William also helped him in his career advancement. He was his benefactor and opened the door for him to the imperial court, where Beckers later became the emperor’s personal physician. Beckers advised Emperor Leopold I (1640 – 1705), who only had daughters in his two marriages, to marry Eleonor Madeleine Wittelsbach (1655 – 1720), the daughter of Pfalz Elector Paladine and Neuburg Duke Philip William. Eleonor became the mother of two future emperors, who succeeded Leopold I, Joseph I (1678 – 1711) and Charles VI (1685 – 1740). The latter is the father of Maria Theresa. All three, Leopold I, Joseph I and Charles III, were crowned Hungarian kings in Bratislava, in St. Martin’s Cathedral.
For his service to the emperor, N. W. Beckers received the title of Baron. Having no children in his two marriages, he made sure the title and property of the Beckers was preserved through his nephew Peter Deodatus († 1735).
Apart from the picture in the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, which can be now dated to the 1680s, and an engraving in the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek – ÖNB) in Vienna, other artefacts decorated with the family coat of arms of W. W. Beckers have been preserved in Austria: two altars and an epitaph in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, and a tombstone, memorial panel and inscriptions in the parish church in Schönkirchen.
Painter Aurel Kajlich
A small collection of documents about painter Aurel Kajlich (1901 – 1973) can be found in the Fine Arts Archive of the Slovak National Gallery (SNG). His personal fund has been part of SNG since 1987, when the painter’s widow, Jolana Kajlichová, donated it to the gallery. Apart from the biographic material, it contains private as well as family correspondence, photos, manuscripts, press cuttings, documentation of the Kajlich work and small original artworks, mainly sketches, illustrations, and designs of posters, commercials and covers.
The researchers’ interest in Aurel Kajlich’s life was lately revived by the painter’s daughter, Anne-Marie Richards, who lives in Stockholm. In September 2013, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the painter’s death, she prepared a small presentation of his works from her own collections in the local Czech Centre. It also commemorated 140 years of his teacher’s birth, a renowned Czech painter and graphic artist Max Švabinský. Mrs Richards then initiated another exhibition of her dad’s works, in cooperation with the Saltskog Gård foundation, which opened on 10 May 2014 in the residence of Carl Fredrik Liljevalch.
The collections of SNG contain around 40 paintings, drawings and graphic works of the academic painter Aurel Kajlich. He is also known for his designs of banknotes and stamps, book illustrations and commercial graphic art. The more complex view of the painter’s work, however, is missing. Aurel Kajlich studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague from 1926 to 1929, in the class of Professor Max Švabinský (a colleague of Koloman Sokol). Later, in 1932 – 1933, he studied at École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. After he completed the studies, he lived and worked in the southern part of the Czech Republic and Bratislava. His name, however, is most connected with the town of Piešťany, in Slovakia, where he lived most of his young and adult life in the famous Villa Anna. It was built by his father, notary Anton Kajlich, in the second half of the 1920s in the town park near the Váh embankment. The projects of the generous three-storied villa were designed by well-known architects Franz Wimmer and Andrej Szőnyi. During 1934 – 1937, the members of the Alexy’s painter colony, Janko Alexy, Jozef Kollár, Zoltán Palugyay, Štefan Žambor, Ladislav Čemický and Jozef Ilečko used to meet there with other painters regularly visiting the town, such as Martin Benka, Miloš Alexander Bazovský, Ján Želibský and Aurél Bernáth.
This time was prolific and significant in Aurel Kajlich’s life. His free painting work reached its peak. The painter and his family permanently settled in the beloved town in 1944. From 1948 until his death, he lived in Villa Anna and worked in the small glass studio on the ground floor. He painted landscapes, but was mainly interested in portraits. From the 1940s he clearly favoured the commercial graphics (posters, stamps, banknotes, play cards), and book illustrations.
Goods and blood for our emperor
The First World War (1914 – 1918) is one of those collective experiences in history, which radically influenced the fates of bigger as well as smaller nations in Europe. It also changed the lives of individuals and families. The centenary of the Great War’s beginning was the occasion for the data-collecting institutions, such as museums and archives, to re-explore their resources documenting World War I. The exhibition project prepared by the Bratislava City Museum, War from the Other Side (May 13 – October 12, 2014), focussed on the Austro-Hungarian war propaganda used as an ideological tool for intentional manipulation of the citizens and attitudes towards the army.
The propaganda department (Kriegspressequartier) was established at the army’s headquarters at the beginning of the war, on July 28, 1914. It was strongly inspired by the German model. The propaganda aimed at creating a unified patriotic front and mobilizing the material as well as human resources (soldiers and civilians) in order to win the war. Among the best-working conservative propaganda tools was the printed data – newspapers, magazines and publications, as well as posters, leaflets, postcards, news from the army correspondents, caricatures, photo albums and little souvenirs or utility items. Also well-known were the forms of performance: exhibitions of artworks and military technology, displays for support army invalids, charitable concerts, financial collections for supporting widows and orphans of the killed soldiers, as well as the first film and sound records, the so-called Schellackplatte.
The collections of the Bratislava City Museum contain a number of documents and items relating to this part of the citizens’ life. For instance, the Pictorial Chronicle of the World War (Világháború képes krónikája), published every week since 1914 in the form of booklets, was bound into nine volumes by 1916. The authentic pictorial reports from the battles were captured in pencil drawings, and caricatures of soldiers and their negotiating politicians. The museum also owns many period photographs, postcards and little prints, such as calendars, and also utility items, like the so-called patriotic ceramics, badges and rings.
The dominant motif of the propaganda was the largely emphasised role of monarch Franz Joseph I (and later Emperor Charles I). The loyalty to the monarchy was also demonstrated in state symbols and colours, as well as verses of the anthem. Another theme was the alliance between Austro-Hungary and Germany, later joined by Turkey and Bulgaria. A frequent subject was the Austro-Hungarian army, its commanders, weapons and uniforms. Many artefacts document the focus of propaganda on individual groups of the population (women, children).
These were our grandfathers: First World War and eastern Slovakia
The Eastern Slovak Museum in Košice started a campaign in 2013 for collecting stories and materials relating to the First World War participants from Košice and surroundings. Fifty seven Košice citizens loaned out artefacts narrating authentic stories of their ancestors, which were displayed at the exhibition entitled These Were Our Grandfathers: First Wold War and Eastern Slovakia, from June 27 to November 11, 2014. They documented more or less ordinary, sometimes tragic, sometimes entertaining stories of people drawn in the war conflict. Interesting were the adventures of legionaries and shipmates – members of the rebellion in Boka Kotorska in February 1918, as well as the fates of officers and soldiers, who were taken prisoner by the Russians. A unique exhibit amongst the citizens’ collections was the album of Anton Brecher (1888 – 1964) with over 500 photos from the battles fought between August 3, 2014 and October 28, 1918.
Another part of the exhibition presented Košice as the largest garrison town, the centre of the region and headquarters of the VI Austro-Hungarian army corps. Also connected to Košice was the life of Svetozar Boroević von Bojna (1856 – 1920), one of the most significant personalities of the Austro-Hungarian army elite. This excellent defence strategist of the First World War, who came from Serbia, worked with the 27th Košice division. He lectured at the local school for military officers and in 1896 was a member of the VI army corps in Košice. In May 1904 he achieved the rank of major-general and the year after was promoted to aristocratic class. In April 1912 he became the Commander of the VI army corps and after the outbreak of the First World War fought on the eastern front. Later, after the success on the Italian front, he was nicknamed “the Lion of Isonzo”. On February 1, 1918, Boroević was named the Field Marshal of the Austro-Hungarian army. He died in Klagenfurt on 23 May 1920.
Renaissance sepulchral monument in Záborské
The research of the forgotten sepulchral monument, which was secondarily placed next to the Chapel of John of Nepomuk in the municipality of Záborské near Prešov, has brought interesting findings. According to the fragmentally preserved inscription around the stone, it is most probably a funeral monument of a member of the Farkas de Hassag family from Záborské. The gradual identification of every stroke carved into the stone resulted in a rare discovery. When the author of this article, together with the Hungarian art historian Pál Lővei deciphered the text, they found out that it has two parts of completely different origins (meaning they come from different sources). What links them is the topic that is typical for all sepulchral inscriptions, the death. The whole text reads: STATV[TVM] EST OMNIBV/S SEMEL MORI VITA PE/RIT MORTIS GLORIA / NON MORITVR (All men must die once. Life may perish, but the glory of death dies not). The first part (Statutum est omnibus semel mori) is a quotation from the New Testament’s Letter to the Hebrews (L – 9:27). The second part comes from the 4th century work of Roman poet Ausonius, Septem sapientum sententiae.
This custom of combining religious and ancient texts was practiced in our region throughout the first half of the 16th century. Another example can be found in nearby Bardejov. The renaissance town hall has a whole set of inscriptions mainly coming from biblical texts, in addition to a quotation from Sallust’s work the Conspiracy of Catiline. Similar combinations can be found in Prešov, on a burgher’s house at 65 Main Street. In both cases, the inscriptions were made using modern time’s (renaissance) capitala (font). The renaissance texts on the Bardejov town hall are among the oldest of their kind in Slovakia.
Regarding the weathered condition of the text on the Záborské monument, it is difficult to detect the writing type. Most probably it is a modern-time, or early-humanistic capitala (font), best visible in letters L and F, undoubtedly initials, which are engraved in the upper part of the central field. With reference to the relief of the heraldic symbol in the central part of the stone, it is most likely a sepulchral monument of the most significant representative of the Farkas de Hassag family, the Šariš County Administrator Ladislaus.
Two falsifications from Banská Bystrica museum
This article talks about two falsifications of antique containers, which entered the collection of the Central Slovak Museum in Banská Bystrica at the start of the 20th century. Almost nothing is known about the person who donated them. Only the place of origin could be identified from the inscriptions. Roman numerals MCMIV are written on both items and most likely mean the year of 1904, when the items were brought to the museum. The word POETOVIO, or PETOVIO, seems to identify the origin of the falsifications, which is today’s town of Ptuj in Slovenia.
The amphora imitation has some features similar to the Dressel 2-4 amphora types. It has an unusual shape and interesting decoration. A wavy line, which goes around the whole vessel, seven cm under the handles, was engraved before firing. The way it is carved suggests it was most probably handmade without using a pottery wheel. The text in the middle of the container VOLCANO./ET./VENERI./SACR/VM translates as Devoted to Vulcan and Venus. The rest of the decoration was applied to the amphora after firing. The creator could have been inspired by the analogical inscription discovered in the town of Ptuj. The word PETOVIO is most probably the misspelled Roman town of Poetovio (the whole name was Colonia Ulpia Traiana Poetovio). This text was added after the amphora was purchased, maybe by the donor, who brought it to the museum.
The second container is an imitation of a three-handle vessel. It looks more symmetrical and authentic at first glance and its decoration is of better quality. However, it is not evenly fired, which helped (with the expertise judgement of Prof Istenić and Ptuj’s museum curator A. Nestorović) with identifying the container as a falsification. The item is decorated with geometric and floral motifs above each handle. The text in the bottom part, X.VII./POETOVIO/MCMIV is similar to the one on the other vessel and suggests that both containers have the same origin. However, regarding their diverse workmanship and quality, we can assume that the containers were made by two different craftsmen.
ICOM GLASS CONFERENCE IN BRATISLAVA
This block of contributions was prepared for the ICOM Glass conference that took place in Bratislava and Lednické Rovne between October 28 and 31, 2013. The members of the meeting visited local collections, exhibitions and other events that illustrated the history and present time of the Slovak glass art.
Collection of glass in the Slovak National Gallery
The gallery began to acquire works of famous Slovak glass artists in 1961, when the department of commercial art and industrial art design was established. The collections include creations of Václav Cigler, Jozef Vachálek, Juraj Gavula, Ivan Polák, Marián Mudroch, Askold Žáček, Jozef Tomeček, Pavol Tomeček, Eva Dolejšiová-Fišerová, Jiří Boháč, Štěpán Pala, Zora Palová, Ladislav Pagáč, Karol Drexler, Eva Ilkovičová-Potfajová, Milan Gašpar, Juraj Opršal, Ján Mýtny, Miloš Balgavý Jr, Patrik Illo, Ľubomír Blecha and Ján Zoričák, as well as foreign artists. The fund has been regularly replenished with the production of Lednické Rovne glassworks, comprising historical artworks as well as creations of the company’s designers Karol Hološka, Jaroslav Taraba, Dagmar Kudrová, Ladislav Pagáč, Juraj Steinhübel and Jozef Kolembus. The collection also contains 32 pieces of commercial glass from the turn of the 19th and 20th century, which come from the inheritance of Baroness Margit Czóbelová (1891 – 1972) from Strážky.
Glass artworks in the collection of Bratislava City Gallery
The Bratislava City Gallery (GMB) does not follow the history or development of glass, but from time to time holds glass exhibitions. Its collection contains glass items that surpass the borderline of commercial glass and fulfil the criteria of free art. The first acquisitions, creations of Ľubomír Blecha, Ján Sucháň, Askold Žáček, Ján Mýtny and Milan Dobeš, entered the gallery’s collection in the 1970s and 1980s. The works of glass artists Milan Pagáč, Viktor Oravec, Miloš Balgavý and Ladislav Čarný, an artist, who only works sporadically with glass and mirrors, came in the 1990s. After 2000, the gallery received three items of Patrik Kovačovský, which he originally created for EXPO in Hannover, and the works of Dale Chihuly, an artist with Slovak origin. Recently, the gallery bought two works from young Russian-Slovak glass artist Ašot Haas. He creates works reminiscent of neo-op-art, using an individual technique and precision in alternating negative and positive forms.
Contemporary Slovak glass art and NOVA Gallery
The sculptural works of glass, so-called studio glass, has a long tradition in Slovakia. In 1965, the Glass in Architecture studio was founded at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. It was led by Václav Cigler, a leading personality in Slovakia’s glass history. The NOVA Gallery, which is one of the oldest private galleries established after 1989, decided to continue with his work. After a time consuming reconstruction, the gallery started to work with modern-day glass in 2007 and aimed its support at contemporary Slovak glass art, design and partial sculpture at home as well as abroad. During the first years of its existence, the NOVA gallery held exhibitions of such glassmakers as Václav Cigler, Pavol Hlôšk and Lukáš Mjartan. To encompass the glass scene, the gallery came up with a special glass award for Slovak and Czech glassmakers, which has lately been extended to include foreign artists working in the Czech or Slovak Republics. The winners so far include Ašot Haas, Slovakia (2007), Ondřej Strnadel, Czech Republic (2009), Martin Hlubuček, Czech Republic (2011) and Petr Stanický, Czech Republic (2013).
Glass used in households
The man behind the Slovak Design Museum (SMD), which was established in August 2014, is a designer and keen collector of the after-war design works Made in Czechoslovakia. Since June 2011, with the help of the members of the Ostblok civil association, he managed to collect hundreds of products from households, including unique prototypes, drawings and technical documentations. Czechoslovakia was one of the largest world design producers after the Second World War, both in quantity as well as range, as it continued in the excellent traditions of the country’s inter-war industry. SMD’s collections contain several thousand items of manufactured, graphic and textile design, commercial art, craft, photography and architecture. Naturally, part of it is the commercial glass, well-known in the after-war Czech and Slovak households as vases, glasses, bottles, lamps, lemon squeezers, ashtrays, oven-proof glass as well as the cultish glass containers for mustard, which were also used, for instance, for drinking unfiltered ground coffee.
Folk Glass publication
The Centre for Folk Art Production issued the publication Folk Glass in the second half of 2013. It is a joint work of ethnologist and art historian Irena Pišútová, a long-term employee of the Historic Museum in the Slovak National Museum (SNM), and natural scientist, collector and photographer Ján Kautman, director of the Natural History Museum in the SNM. Until then, there was barely anything in our literature written about folk glass. The publication Folk Glass presents the phenomenon of the Slovak folk glass, which is characteristic with the simple shapes of blown glass combined with almost strict utility function of the design and discreet decoration. The authors also document the history of Slovak glassworks in the 18th to 20th century, which produced a varied assortment of commercial as well as decorative glass for higher as well as lower folk classes.
Salt Office in Liptovský Hrádok
The historical building known as the Salt Office was built in 1770 for the needs of the Chamber’s Forest Office. It was named Salt Office because it was situated in the same area as the building of a salt warehouse. Later, it was also called Copper Office, which is used by the locals up to this day.
When in 1795 František Wissner (1740 – 1831) became the Prefect of the chamber’s estate in Liptovský Hrádok, he built several technical and industrial facilities, as well as a forestry school that was the first of its kind in the then Hungary. It was probably during his time, when the building received Prussian vaults with stucco and painted decoration of illusory images with floral and geometric ornaments. The artist of the decoration is not documented, but the decoration was made around 1800. It was around the same time when Levoča painter Jozef Lerch decorated the Hrádok church.
The Ethnographic Museum in Liptovský Hrádok lost its original residence in 2001, when the local castle and manor house were sold. Luckily, it didn’t finish its existence. The museum workers managed to persuade the town authorities to use the money from selling the castle and manor house to buy a dilapidated, though valuable historic building of the former Salt and Copper Office.
The reconstruction of the Ethnographic Museum started in 2002. The agreement signed between the museum and National Agency for Development of Small and Medium Enterprises in August 2004 helped to secure finances for creating a unique exposition of the shepherd’s culture as a phenomenon, which can help to boost tourism into the region.
The building was declared a national cultural monument in 2007. In the following years it underwent a challenging restoration of the interiors trying to recreate the original painting and stucco decoration. The people’s enthusiastic approach to the restoration process of this precious monument returned the building to the look it was given by the prefects of the chamber’s estate in the past.
Grain silo and storehouse of the Ludwig’s mill in Bratislava
The grain silo and storage C are the only preserved industrial monuments of the former steam mill of Gottfried Ludwig at Krížna ulica street in the wider Bratislava centre. The industrial development in this originally farming part of town initiated the building of a horse railway in 1846, which led to Trnava. German salesman Ludwig came to Bratislava in 1850 and acquired land alongside the aforementioned railway. In 1880, he bought one of the mills, which used to stand at Krížna ulica street since the 18th century, and rebuilt it into a steam mill. Later, the mill and all other buildings were acquired by the Bratislava Mills, a stock company. The Ludwig’s mill was close to the Stein brewery, not far away was the Danubius textile factory and the town’s new slaughter-house.
The area of the mill underwent several building phases. After the fire in 1921, when the mill burnt down, a new mill and other buildings were built with the emphases on fire resistance. A modern grain silo, new storehouses for flour, grain cleaning, and other structures, were built in 1934 – 1937. Storehouses A and B, as well as D with an office, flats and garages were built in 1947 – 1950. The preserved ferro-concrete grain silo from 1934 was technologically very advanced and architecturally interesting for its period. The stack silo, so-called storehouse C, which stored grain in the common way, was also preserved.