Egyptian collections in Slovakia
The ties between the territories of contemporary Slovakia and Egypt are at least 2,000 years old. The Roman Empire provided a convenient arena for contacts; evidences of the spread of new Oriental/Egyptian cults came from Rusovce and Iža. The Romans were rescued by a miraculous rain at the Granua called down probably by an Egyptian priest. The statue of Osiris discovered at Trenčianske Bohuslavice indicates a far-extending impact of ancient Egyptian cults.
Relations stayed alive even during the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire. The king of Hungary, Andrew II, fought an Ayyubid Sultan during the Fifth Crusade. Military encounters with Ottomans were strong in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Egyptomania of the 19th century influenced the Slovak territory as well; Dušan S. Jurkovič created representative examples of objects with Egyptianised motifs.
Excavators, travellers and collectors brought the Egyptian material culture to schools and museums. The excavations in Sharuna/Kom el-Ahmar Sawaris and Gamhud were linked to the Hungarian Kingdom, however, the collections established by travellers were more common. The collectors also purchased artefacts from antiquity dealers; Dr. Schimko left behind the largest such collection in Slovakia. Due to turbulent history of the 20th century several collections disappeared: in Abrahám, former Royal Catholic Gymnasium in Bratislava and Košice. Collection from Prešov was dispersed even earlier. More than 500 Aegyptiaca have survived altogether, preserved in Betliar, the Archaeological Museum and Natural History Museum in Bratislava (all are parts of the Slovak National Museum), City Museum Bratislava, in Levice, Nitra, Prievidza, Rimavská Sobota and Topoľčianky.
Slovak museology have still not fully detached from the legacy of the Second World War and the communist treatment. It is therefore of utmost importance to gather and complement all available information on both existing and lost or dispersed collections.
Secession traits in traditional building construction in Slovakia
The last universal artistic style, Art Nouveau, influenced the lifestyle at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries – from fine and utility art, through architecture, living, fashion and crafts to everyday items. In Slovakia, the monarchy’s two centres – Vienna and Budapest, determined the development of Art Nouveau in architecture, which resulted in the origin of two separate artistic trends. The Viennese secession preferred the naturalistic elements and geometry shapes, while the Hungarian was characteristic with the application of historical decorative features from the periods of neo-styles and eclecticism. The south of Slovakia was naturally, most influenced by the latter style.
The Art Nouveau had a radical influence on the traditional building in Slovakia. For the first time in history, we saw the style development in association with the professional building. This also worked the other way round. The period architecture took inspiration from the traditional building and adopted some construction-artistic features, especially of the wooden houses in rural areas. This was one of the characteristic traits in the work of architect Dušan S. Jurkovič.
The author of the article writes about rural houses as well as farm steadings adorned by secession features, which were documented by the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s. The number of these constructions, however, got significantly reduced over the last decades, either due to deterioration and consequent demolition of the houses, or changes related to their modernisation or functional use.
The technique and intensity of decorating a traditional country house exterior always emphasised the social-economical hierarchy of the village society. These houses usually represented the wealthier citizens. Part of the front decoration was often the dating with a monogram (the oldest recorded houses with signatures date from 1904). The secession influence was still applied on new rural houses in the 1930s.
The traditional building in Slovakia of the Art Nouveau period is remarkable with the phenomenon that evolved around the construction builders of the Liptov region. The Liptov builders were renowned for their highly professional approach, work specialisation and above all good quality. These builders were much sought after and hired in masses primarily outside the Slovak boundaries. They worked on significant buildings in cities like Vienna, Zagreb, Miskolc, Szeged and Esztergom. In the Hungarian metropolis of Budapest they worked almost on all significant public buildings, impressive constructions and monumental structures. They worked there under the supervision of some of our significant architects, including Milan M. Harminc and Liptov native Ján N. Bobula. The Upper Liptov region was the birthplace of brothers Ján and Jozef Hlavaj, Ján Palkovič and Peter Uličný.
The construction boom slowed down at the beginning of the 20th century, which resulted in the reduced number of builders working in Budapest. The Upper Liptov builders thus started looking for jobs in the native region as well as across whole Slovakia.
The end of Novohrad villages in the 20th century
A settlement can perish in many ways and for various reasons. Novohrad, the region in south-central Slovakia, documents almost all variants of a village end that happened in the 20th century. The only one that is missing is caused by war or related repressive actions, such as burning, flattening the village with ground and physical liquidation of its inhabitants, even though a few villages were threatened by this at the end of the Second World War.
Quite a large number of settlements perished during the Turkish occupation in 1663 – 1685. The villages of Dolné Strháre, Obeckov, Olováry, Pravica, Veľké Zlievce, Zombor and a few others were completely demolished, but later restored. The modern history lists the industrial recession, decrease in number of citizens, building of strategic state military training premises, brown coal mining and constructions of dams as the most frequent causes for the end of the villages.
The recession of the industrial production started with the stagnation of the industry that provided the main employment. In the north-eastern part of Novohrad it was ore mining at first, then glass making. The end of the glassworks also meant the stagnation of settlements, in where it worked. The second most important economic trade of Novohrad – agriculture – went through a similarly dramatic change. After 1948, the nationalisation, conglomeration and agricultural mass production meant the end of several settlements and many traditional manufacturing facilities related to the trade, e.g. water mills. At the same time, the citizens started to migrate from villages to towns, where new jobs accumulated.
Apart from the natural deaths, multiplied by epidemics and wars, many Novohrad citizens moved to southern areas (“Lower Land”, today mostly Serbia) in the 18th century. In the 19th century they were leaving for the USA and a few ended in Canada, France and Argentina. The local religion of the citizens was another cause for demographic decline, as it was typical for Evangelists to only have one child.
In the 20th century, the villages of Lešť and Turie Pole were turned into military training areas, which caused the end of these local centres. Their most preserved parts up to this date are cemeteries.
Album of Henrich Lišovský/Lisovszky
On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, in 2014, the Eastern-Slovak Museum in Košice opened the exhibition These Were Our Grandfathers: The First World War. Prior to that, the museum ran a large media campaign, thanks to which it collected dozens of rare relics from the members of the Austro-Hungarian army. One of the most precious was the album of photographs by Henrich Lišovský/Lisovszky, the First Lieutenant of the 32nd Honvéd Infantry Regiment.
Henrich Lišovský was born in 1892, in Silesian Jablunkov. His father, Roman Lisowski was of Polish origin. Henrich used a Hungarian version of his surname, Lisovszky, until 1918 (this is the name he also used in the army records and photo album’s captions). After the origin of Czechoslovakia, he changed it to Lišovský. When the war ended, he worked as a senior officer at the Košice-Bohumín railway, mainly in the Liptov region, at stations of Ružomberok, Strečno and Rybárpole, but also in Žilina. He died in 1970 in Košice, where he is buried in the Public Cemetery.
The album contains 31 pages with 222 photographs. Most of them are framed in black colour and some captions are in Hungarian. They usually inform of the year and place where the photograph was taken, sometimes the name of the officer or another pictured person. The primary aim of the Košice museum was to find out the army unit that Henrich Lišovský was with since the start of the war. Based on the belt buckles with a Hungarian coat of arms and embroidered decorative patterns on the uniform trousers and jackets, it was confirmed he was a member of the Royal Hungarian Land Forces (Honvédség). The Honvéd were the territorial army of the Hungarian part of the monarchy, administered by the separate ministry in Budapest.
Lišovský was a member of the 32nd Honvéd Infantry Regiment, located in the Transylvanian town of Dej (Dés in Hungarian). In 1915, he was promoted to First Lieutenant.
In the summer of 1915, Lišovský’s regiment was based between the rivers San and Dnester, mainly in the territory of today’s western Ukraine. The album contains a few photos from this period.Prized, are the photos of specialised Austro-Hungarian army units in battle (e.g. Sturmtruppen, Sturmpatrouillen). Other rare photos are of gas units, trained to use combat gasses, as the Austro-Hungarian army only had a very few of those. The album also contains the typical symbols of the Great War – rows of trenches with barbwire. There are three photos of Emperor Charles and a photo of Archduke Karol Albrecht of Austria with Honvéd officers. Four pages show photographs from the Italian front from 1918. The locations include San Giorgo di Nogaro, Udine, Palmanova, Palazzolo and Portogruaro. It is interesting that many streets of the besieged Italian towns already have German names, as can be seen on Lišovský’s photos.
Portrait of George Justh in SNM-Museum of Červený Kameň
The research of the portrait of George Justh Sr (1819 – 1909), in the collections of the Slovak National Museum-Museum of Červený Kameň, helped to identify the provenance and painter, who also painted two other related portraits as well as the whole series of the museum’s paintings originally found in the representative rooms of the Turiec county administrator’s house in Martin.
The representative portrait of the Turiec county administrator, George Justh, from 1887, entered the museum’s collection at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s. The National Cultural Commission assembled the confiscated aristocratic artefacts and interior items there from around 35 manor houses without any information about their origin. The mentioned portrait has the author’s signature in the right lower corner: Kertész J. 1887. The portrait person is described on the reverse, in pale brown colour in italics: Méltóságos/Id. Justh György/Úr Turóczmegye/Főispánja. 1885. On the sub-frame, in pencil is written T. S. Martin. The painting was done by the Hungarian portrait artist János Kertész. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in 1871 – 1874. The museum found two other of his paintings in its collection – a portrait of Anthony II Radvanszky from 1885 and a portrait of Simon Révay from 1893. The museum recorded both works as portraits of unknown aristocrats. They were finally identified thanks to the research about the painter. Both depicted people, who, like Justh, worked as administrators of the Turiec county. This led to the conclusion that the paintings might not come from a family residence, but somewhere else – the Turiec county office in Martin, where both men worked. This assumption was consequently supported by other archive documents, which revealed new information on other collection items of the museum.
Faience set in the collections of Záhorie Museum in Skalica
The collection fund of the Záhorskie Museum in Skalica purchased a set of 15 faience items from a private collector from Moravský Svätý Ján in 2015. The newly acquired items range from the second half of the 17th century to the 1870s. Typologically, they are hollow dishes – vessels of various shapes and functions. There are eight jugs, three pots and one terrine, lunch box, vase and pharmacist’s dish. Regarding the provenance, we can divide the collection into three groups: Slovak, Moravian and Austrian works.
The two oldest exemplars are Hutterite products. The barrel-shaped, cobalt-blue pharmacist’s dish is from the last quarter, or end of the 17th century. The technical literature used to call it albarello. In western Slovakia, such products were made for instance in Sobotište. The second Hutterite work, from the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century, is the jug in an egg-shape with a round tin handle. It most likely had a tin top as well. The cream-white glazing is richly decorated. The used motifs with dominating blue colour refer to the influence of then production in Delft.
Many other faience items come from the manufacture in Holíč, or are inspired by its production and mainly decoration (Boleráz, Košolná and other western Slovak manufactures, 18-19th century). The Holíč inspiration lasted for a long time in our territory. This can be documented by examples of Modra’s production of the 1930s – 1940s (Heřman Landsfeld).
The faience set also contains two or three items of Moravian provenance, as the originally Holíč technique of naturalistic painting of local flowers, mainly roses, also influenced the manufacturers in the Moravian town of Vyškov at the end of the 18th century.
Four items are definitely of Austrian origin. The oldest is the coffee pot with a sculpted mascaron ornament on the spout and a painted decoration. It comes from Salzburg, from the end of the 18th century, or around 1800, from the locally known workshop of Jakub Pisotti Sr. Two jugs from the first half of the 19th century come from the renowned Upper Austrian faience manufacturing centre, Gmunden. The third jug, decorated with cobalt-blue painting comes from Burgenland and is dated from the second quarter of the 19th century.
Medieval church in Rokycany
The first written record of St. Catherine’s Church in Rokycany (district of Prešov) comes from 1332 – 1337. The church stands on a dominant, 18m hill that towers above the valley of the river Svinka. This hilly position was also reflected in the former name of the municipality – from German “Berg” (hill) its Hungarian equivalents were Berky, Berqui, Berchi, etc. A record from 1295 refers to the municipality as ville Berky. The church is remarkable not only for its architecture but also its history. This is because the municipality was owned by the city of Košice in the 15th century, which is remembered in a unique portal made for this occasion. The sacral building is assumed to have originated in the 13th century. The archaeological research from 2013 partially confirmed that. The current church was built after 1429, when King Sigismund gave Rokycany to the city of Košice. This is documented by the gothic portal in the church sanctuary with the preserved coat of arms of Košice.
The bulk construction comes from the 15th century. The church with no towers was oriented lengthwise from east to west. The sanctuary on the east was covered by a rib gothic vault. The nave had a flat wooden beam ceiling. Between the two windows on the southern wall was a late-Gothic portal with the Hungarian emblem and Košice coat of arms. Gothic sedilias, which are only known from the 1955 archival photo documentation, were located in the southern wall of the sanctuary. The late-gothic pastoforium in the northern wall of the sanctuary, made of similar sandstone as the portal, has a valuable sculptural decoration.
The Košice ownership also had a cultural influence on Rokycany. The reformation ideas that spread there in the 16th century meant that Evangelists acquired the church and parish before 1585. By the end of the 17th century, the re-catholisation got stronger and the Catholics got the church back in 1721 thanks to Žigmund Sztankay. Since it never became a parish church, the following constructional development saw lower budgets. The next renovation took place in 1855 – 1856 and involved the replacement of the roof and renovation of facades and interior. The unsuitable wooden belfry was replaced with masonry in 1866, built into the western façade. The church was also renovated in 1897 and a concrete choir stall in the nave’s western part was added in 1966.
George Günther’s epitaph in Kežmarok
The article describes the basic art-historical values of George Günther’s epitaph from the Basilica minor of St. Cross in Kežmarok. It also explains the restoration research, which used specific non-destructive methods, and the process of restoring this unique historical artefact of the Roman-Catholic Church.
The epitaph comes from the mid 17th century and is a valuable example of this kind of art. Apart from the restoration works, it is also interesting to learn about the unique polychrome techniques on two renaissance-mannerist symbolic sculptures. The sculptures were decorated with the techniques of estofado and sgrafito, which were not common in the Slovak territory and manifested great skills of the then masters.
The restoration of George Günther’s epitaph revealed new information on the application of these techniques and helped to understand the process technology. Dušana Ondreková restored the artwork as part of her diploma work, in the studio of wooden polychrome sculpture under the supervision of Jana Karpjaková Balážiková and technical assistant Jana Dušková, during her two-year magisterial study at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava.
Eva Bezúchová – Ondrej Lipták – Martin Pražienka – Ján Šperka – Marián Uhrin
Story of insurgent tank 313
The insurgent tanks and tank drivers played a crucial role in the army during the Slovak National Uprising (SNP). They fought at critical defence places and supported the attackers. The collections of the SNP Museum in Banská Bystrica contain several items relating to the insurgent tank drivers. A few link to tank Praga LT type 38, which is the symbol of the Slovak insurgent tank army.
The enthusiasts of Orava military history rescued a recently discovered wreck of this type of tank in the Istebné valley. They contacted the SNP Museum and in 2012, the tank body with all preserved parts was transported to the museum depositary, with the help of the Military History Club of Stred-Zvolen. Based on the period documentation, the tank had a production number 1093/SL3 and military evidence number V-3.002. This means it came in the first batch of LT-38 tanks supplied to the Slovak army in 1940.
The tank fought at the eastern front and in 1942 to 1944 was used as a training vehicle in Martin. After the outbreak of the uprising, on August 29, 1944, the tank was used in the area of Trstená – Tvrdošín – Krivá – Podbiel. It helped with the transportation of army machinery as well as raids at the strategic road Kraľovany – Dolný Kubín. Before the German attack on October 9, 1944, the tank escaped into the Istebné valley, where it was later shut down due to an engine breakdown. The abandoned tank was gradually dismantled for scrap. At the end of the 1980s only the body remained. The steep mountain terrain and dense woods prevented its complete destruction.
Because of the condition of the preserved body, the tank could not be reconstructed into its original look. The SNP Museum therefore decided to stabilise the relics, along with the preserved rare traces of the camouflaged painting and tactical number. The first step was the identification of the individual parts of this collection item. The conservationists were assisted with a technical description in a Slovak and German catalogue of spare parts. They divided the identified parts of the tank into material groups, due to the different technological methods of conservation. The diagnoses of the scale and character of the damage and corrosion confirmed the curator’s assumption of the possible preservation of the painted surface fragments.
After the conservation works were finished, the item was prepared for the completion of the existing original parts and application of the historically matching paint colours. The specialised museum digital system Witikon helped to reconstruct the collection item into its full original look, by adding the complete tank silhouette to the preserved body. The multi-media exhibition in Banská Bystrica’s SNP Museum has been narrating the story of the LT-38 tank to the public since August 29, 2016.
Tivadar Ortvay – Bratislava historian
Tivadar Ortvay was born on the 18th of November 1843, in the multi-ethnic Banat region that progressed economically thanks to the mining industry. His native municipality of Čiklova baňa (in Hungarian Csiklová/Csiklovabánya, in Romanian Ciclova Montană, in German Montan/Deutsch Tschiklowa), originally with German and Romanian citizens, can be found today in Romania.
Ortvay came from the German Catholic family of the Orthmayrs and only learnt Hungarian at the high school. The local Catholic environment, in which he grew, had destined him to become a priest. After graduating from the Premonstratesian grammar school in Oradea, where his favourite subjects were Latin, Greek, literature and history, he applied for the Theological Lyceum in Timisoara (1862). He was ordained as a priest on the 20th of July 1866. A milestone in his career was his appointment as a substitute professor in the town of Lugoj in 1870. He stayed there for two years and together with Eugen Szentkláray worked on publishing the source edition (42 notebooks) on the history of the Catholic Church in Banat (1871 – 1874). They researched the archives of canonries and bishoprics and these activities were positively reviewed by the elite of Hungarian social sciences, among who were Flóris Rómer (1815 – 1889) and Arnold Ipolyi (1823 – 1886).
Ortvay applied to the Philosophical Faculty of Budapest University in 1874, where he received the doctorate in archaeology, art history and numismatics. After the graduation, his teacher, Flóris Rómer, found him a position of a custodian in the local Hungarian National Museum. Ortvay was invited to the prestigious Society of Hungarian Historians (Magyar Történelmi Társulat) and also worked as an editor of the significant professional magazine Archaeological Reporter (Archaeológiai Értesítő) from 1874 to 1876. In order to better integrate into the structures of the Magyar-Hungarian social sciences, he changed his surname from Orthmayr to the Hungarian version of Ortvay in 1873.
Ortvay’s long and fruitful “Bratislava” period started in 1873, when he was one of the founding members of the Bratislava (Pressburg) county archaeological and historical society. In 1875 he accepted the position of a history professor at the Academy of Law. He taught international and Hungarian history, cultural history, historical methodology and source criticism. Ortvay was publically active, organising trips to nearby surrounding areas and published books and articles about the regional history. He became an honorary citizen of Bratislava in 1906.
The town history enthusiasts know him mainly for his local guide through Bratislava streets and squares (Pozsony város utcái és terei), published in 1905, and four-volume series on the city’s medieval history, published between 1892 and 1912.
In 1906 Ortvay moved to Budapest, where he died on July 8, 1916.
Museum of Photography
The origin of the Museum of Photography draws on the long-time experience of the FOTOFO civic association, which has been organising the annual festival Month of Photography for 25 years and the Central European House of Photography (SEDF, Prepoštská 4, Bratislava) for 10 years. It also has a rich tradition with exhibiting, publishing and education activities. The successfully developing photographic life in Slovakia and recognition of our photographs in the world have been a good basis for starting a collection of photographs and their processing, as well as forming a community of collectors and promoting the photographic art.
The Museum of Photography has currently two main priorities: to enlarge the collections of the photographers active since the second half of the 20th century to current representatives of the photographic scene and build a permanent place for presenting the history of Slovak photography. This exhibition is situated on the first floor of the Central European House of Photography and displays the photographic development in Slovakia since the invention of photography in 1839 until 1918. The drawers’ folders present the works of the most significant photographers of that period, including Karol Divald, Gusztáv Matz, Pavol Socháň, Eduard Kozics, Vojtech Mindszenty and Karol Körper. Their works are rented from various Slovak institutions as well as private collectors.
Part of the exposition, which will grow gradually, is an interactive part, where the visitors can “touch” some exhibits and learn how they work, e.g. camera obscura and stereo-photography. They can also try to colour the photographs or compose their own studio photograph. The exposition is complete with the exhibits of historical photographic technologies.