Sárvár castle was the property of the Nádasdy family from the early 16th century until 1670. Its current pentagonal shape was formed during the time of judge royal Ferenc III Nádasdy, one of the leading art patrons of the 17th century. Its early 17th century state is documented by three inventories (1630, 1646, 1650), and the layout of the interior, the functions and furnishings of the rooms can be reconstructed from the inventory dated 1669. The paper suggests some new dates of construction, explicates the stucco and fresco ornamentation program and on the basis of the furnishing inquiries into the role and function of the castle turned residence during Ferenc Nádasdy's time.
Comparing the inventories of various dates, one finds that Nádasdy first had wing A reconstructed before 1646. Research puts to the mid-17th century the rest of the constructions: building of the C wing and chapel, linkage of gate tower and wing A. Archival sources put the reconstruction to 1650–51. The stateroom was created at that time on the ceiling of which Hans Rudolf Miller painted in 1653 a fresco series of town sieges during the 15-year war. The stuccowork by Andrea Bertinalli framing the frescoes is dated by the paper also to 1653, a different date from what research earlier suggested. The conception of the ceiling decoration was completed before Nádasdy left in early June 1653 for the coronation of Ferdinand IV in Regensburg. Thus the iconography of the frescoes is independent of the thematically similar battle-scene cycle (possibly in oil) seen on the way in Günzburg near Ulm, about which Pál Esterházy travelling with Nádasdy wrote in his diary. Nádasdy had the opportunity to see in Günzburg the now extinct 16 full-length portraits ordered by the previous owner of the castle Karl von Burgau upon the model of the Spanischer Saal in Ambras around 1600. That may have inspired him to have the 20 full-length portraits painted mentioned by the inventory of 1669 in one of the salons of Sárvár.
Contemporaneous with the reconstruction is the staircase beneath the tower, mentioned in an order to stucco artist Andrea Bartinalli in February 1657 in which Nádasdy ordered the plasterwork for the ceiling of the upstairs rooms of wings E and D and the corridor of wing E, as well as a dual coat of arms above the mantelpiece in a room in the E wing. The order reveals that the stucco of three rooms in wing D had been started and Bertinalli was to finish it. Payment reveals that Bertinalli had completed the bulk of the work by the end of 1657. It probably included the ceiling stucco of the corner room in wing D, the only one still extant today. The plaster decoration frames frescoes the themes of which are from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Ingeborg Schemper-Sparholz traced their engraved prototypes to Antonio Tempesta, but this could only be verified for the Narcissus scene. The Perseus and Andromeda story adopts Chrispijn de Passe's work via a mediating print, the models for the rest of the scenes are unknown. The joint interpretation of the fresco themes and the so-far unstudied iconography of the plasterwork could provide the key to the program of the entire ceiling. The stucco putti hold attributes of natural plenitude, fertility, while the Ovid scenes are about accepted love (Perseus and Andromeda, Jupiter and Callisto) or the rejection of love (Narcissus, Venus sends Amor to kindle desire in Pluto for Proserpina who rejects love). The ceiling decoration is the apology of love and female fertility in the corner room that was one of the rooms of the female suite after the mid-century reconstruction of the castle.
Practically nothing is known of the one-time art works in the castle. The inventories reflect numeric data, which reveal that by increasing the number of art works Nádasdy wished to create a representative image in the Sárvár rooms after the rebuilding. The definite functions and furnishing of the different wings are revealed by the May 1669 inventory taken a few months after the death of the count's wife Anna Júlia Esterházy. It shows therefore the state of the interior as it had evolved during one and a half decades' use after the reconstruction. The composition of the furnishing reveals that the described rooms did not serve for actual residence. Apart from the monotony and impersonal character of the description of the furniture the most conspicuous things are the absent objects, particularly in comparison with the description of the actual residence of the family, the castle of Pottendorf. This comparison reveals that in Sárvár pieces of storing furniture, first of all those for keeping clothes and textiles, are missing in Sárvár. There are only two cupboards but they are empty. There is no furniture to hold books, while in Pottendorf there was a Bibliotheca. In Sárvár, except for Nádasdy's bedroom and one of the women's rooms, the beds are not installed, and apart from Nádasdy's suite there are no curtains, draperies, and there is no mirror.
The inventory confirms the earlier research findings: Sárvár did not function as a residence, since before 1650 the family lived in Deutschkreuz, then in Seibersdorf in Lower Austria and from 1660 in Pottendorf. There are not many data about Nádasdy's stay in Sárvár in his itinerary either, which throws new light on the representative modernization of the castle and the need to create a new residence. Concerning functions, it is illumining to compare Sárvár with Deutschkreuz where the family is documented to have spent lengthier periods regularly in the second half of the 1650s with frequent guests. That is probably why around 1657 a two-level “Saalgebäude” of several rooms was built in Deutschkreuz. It must also be attributable to function that the Sárvár castle was representatively impersonal, “Prunkappartement”-like. There are few data to suggest what role the castle was assigned in the 1650s, but they tend to reveal that after the reconstruction and furnishing with art works Sárvár was to be the venue of ceremonial hospitality as the occasional protocol venue of Nádasdy's official matters in Hungary.