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Plenus Sapientia: Lippay György Esztergomi Érsek Pozsonyi Kertjének Látványosságai

Plenus Sapientia: Spectacles of Archbishop György Lippay's Summer Palace Garden in Pozsony

Művészettörténeti Értesítő
Anna Ecsedy


Archbishop of Esztergom György Lippay's summer residence and garden in Pozsony (Bratislava) were represented on a series of engravings published in 1663. According to the dedication text on the title page, the series originally consisted of twenty sheets only four of which survive, along with two copies of the title page (see Appendix I. 1–5). The prints were made after the drawings by Johann Jacob Khün, the archbishop's court artist. Khün's mark is discernable on a recently recovered copy of the title page (a later imprint of the original plate). The engravings were executed by Mauritius Lang of Augsburg. Descriptions of the missing sheets are included in Notitia Hungariae Novae Geographico Historica by Mátyás Bél. The idea behind redecorating the garden and commissioning the engravings is conveyed by the motto on the title page: “Haec dicit Dominus Deus: Tu signaculum similitudinis, plenus sapientiâ et perfectus decore in delitiis paradisi Dei fuisti.” (Ez 28:12–19). The biblical allusion points to a chain of ideas typical mainly of encyclopedic works representing the versatility of the created universe. Man is like God in his wisdom; his works, made from the wonders of created nature, are the results of repeated and ongoing creation themselves, reflecting the fullness and beauty of Paradise.

The garden's most detailed contemporary description is given by Johann Sebastian Müller, ambassador of Saxe-Weimar, who visited the garden in 1660. Contemporary visitors as well as Mátyás Bél praise the multitude of scientific mechanisms in the garden: machines and automatons producing motion and musical effects, giochi d'acqua — type phenomena, and catoptrical constructions.

The Mount Parnassus in the south-west corner of the garden was inspired by an engraving in Les raisons des forces mouvantes by Salomon de Caus (1615), showing a paraphrased version of the artificial hill in the garden of the Villa Medici in Pratolino. According to Müller, Lippay's Parnassus probably hid a water organ, a symbol of status from the 1560s well into the mid-17th century, especially favoured by the Papal court and the college of cardinals. Its most celebrated specimen was attached to the Parnassus in the water theatre of Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati. This construction was populated by figurines of Apollo and the Musae, imitating the sound and movement of a whole orchestra, just like Lippay's Parnassus.

Manual hydraulic organs and constructions imitating the sound of wind instruments and birdsong are known from Heron's works. Their modern automatic versions (brought up to date according to the Pratolino model) featured in De Caus's treatises and in the derivative works of Jesuit scientists Athanasius Kircher (Musurgia universalis, 1650) and Caspar Schott (Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, 1657). Such constructions were hidden in two niches in the ground floor arcades (“inferior galleria”) of Lippay's summer residence. One niche displayed figurines of singing sirens surrounding a bagpipe player, the other artificial ruins equipped with a hydromechanical machine imitating birdsong. When Kircher dedicated the chapter on Egyptians' mechanical and architectural knowledge in his Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1653) to Lippay, he referred to the machinae hydraulicae of the garden as most representative of his patron's expertise in mathematics.

Another area of mathematicae mixtae was represented in Lippay's garden by spectacular phenomena caused by catoptrical and dioptrical mechanisms, belonging to the category of magia catoptrica. The man behind these was Zachias Traber SJ (1611–1679), professor of mathematics at the University of Nagyszombat (Trnava) and later at Vienna. As an expert mainly on optics, Traber spent years in Lippay's court playing a definitive role in redecorating and mechanizing the garden. He also took part in planning and executing the hydraulic constructions, such as the waterworks of the grotto which were shooting a jet of water 50 feet up into the air. His treatise Nervus opticus, based on the writings of Kircher and Schott, was published in Vienna in 1675. It contains detailed and illustrated descriptions of Traber's catoptrical constructions planned for Lippay (see Appendix II).

In the upper niches in the walls of the grotto, a variety of “miraculous metamorphoses” (mirae metamorphoses Catoptricae) were located. These could be brought about by mirrors joined to each other at different angles, effecting distorted reflections of the figures of “woodland gods” standing in the niches or those of the spectators, making them appear as monsters. Their construction was probably motivated by a chapter of Kircher's Ars magna lucis et umbrae, which gives a description of the same metamorphoses created by the so-called multividium in the Museum Kircherianum.

Traber also designed a theatrum catoptricum for Lippay. Descriptions of the early modern version of this contraption are provided by Kircher, Schott, and Traber after Giovanni Battista della Porta. The famous theatrum catoptricum in the Stanza del Centauro of the Villa Borghese was similar to the one in Lippay's garden. Kircher's celebrated theatrum polydicticum was presented in the Roman College museum.

The hermitage in Lippay's garden had a peephole cave, equipped with a magnifying lense, showing scenes from the lives of holy anchorites. This was the work of Gervasius Mattmüller (c. 1593–1668), the famous Viennese court optician. Traber knew Mattmüller personally, several sources testify to their professional cooperation. Traber probably contributed to acquiring and installing the construction. In his own treatise, he presents a different version using the magnifying effect of concave mirrors. Lippay's speculum polygonum planoconcavum, made from 16 mirrors, probably came from Mattmüller's workshop as well. This mirror, according to Müller's account, multiplied the light of candles placed in front of it and probably served to illuminate parts of the garden or the upper rooms of the building at night.

Traber demonstrates the Aristotelian explanation of the rainbow relying on arguments based on his experiences in Lippay's garden, with an illustration of one of two fountains, that were erected in the the archbishop's garden between 1660–63, probably with the contribution of Traber. The two fountains are represented on separate plates in the series of engravings depicting the garden. The engravings present the most spectacular effect produced by the fountains: the rainbow appearing on water-dust. The rainbow here is more than a beautiful phenomenon evoking the traditional symbolism associated with its appearance. It is a scientific experiment set up to prove a scientific statement. It is meant to herald the wisdom and scientific erudition of the garden's owner. It also points to a deep knowledge of natura pictrix by presenting the artificial recreation of the only aerial phenomenon which can be recreated at all.

As a sort of catoptrical showroom, Lippay's garden was a unique one in Central Europe. Its decoration was derived from the displays in the appropriate department of the Museum Kircherianum. The new guide to interpreting the Museum's catoptric instruments was provided by the works of Kircher and Schott. Catoptric compositions, executed through reliance on classical authors, were no longer to be regarded as supernatural miracles. They were constructions producing artificial versions of natural effects. Through these constructions, God's infinite wisdom and the perfection of creation were made manifest, together with the intellectual talent of their engineer or owner. Divine wisdom and human intellect were put on the same plane. No matter how simple or complex they might be, all catoptric phenomena in the archbishop's garden tend towards this ideological conclusion.

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The subject of the present study is a high-quality series of Baroque garden sculpture, pieces of which have been scattered over various gardens in Budapest and the gardens of Teleki House at Gernyeszeg, Transylvania (today Gornesti, Romania). It is the author's aim to describe statues either still extant or known from historical sources, to clear up unsolved problems of dating, to perform a comparative analysis of the figures in terms of style and typology, and to reveal their hitherto unknown origin. It can be stated that the majority of the pieces conceived after Cesare Ripa's Iconologia and antique models are tightly connected to the works of Giovanni Giuliani and his activities in Vienna and Austerlitz/Slavkov u Brna in the early 18th

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Adatok Johann Jacob Khün „érseki udvari festő” működéséhez, Lippay György pozsonyi nyaralókastélyának újonnan előkerült keleti látképe (1663) kapcsán

Data to the work of Johann Jacob Khün, “painter to the archbishop”, and the newly found eastern view (1663) of György Lippay’s summer residence in Pozsony

Művészettörténeti Értesítő
Anna Ecsedy

Archbishop of Esztergom György Lippay’s (1600–1666) summer residence and garden in Pozsony were represented on a series of engravings published in 1663. A hitherto unknown piece of this series features the eastern view of the residence (Bibliotheca Ecclesiae Metropolitanae Strigoniensis, Esztergom; fig.). The sheet bears the signature of Johann Jacob Khün, painter to the archbishop who supposedly produced the drawings for the entire series.

According to various sources most of which were concluded by Klára Garas, Khün came from a family of over four generations of painters and sculptors originated in Besztercebánya. The present study attempts to uncover documents representing Khün’s family relations and personal connections in the milieu of the archbishop’s court at Pressburg.

Only a few sources remain on Johann Jacob Khün’s work in archbishop Lippay’s service. Based on a few miscellaneous allusions and the painter’s recently recovered letter written to the archbishop’s physician and familiar Polycarpus Procopius Bonannus (d. 1664) in 1659, the author presumes that Khün was the grandson of Jacob Khien the elder (d. after 1619) who created the so-called Zmeskál epitaph (Berzevice, c. 1600). Johann Jacob Khün’s father was probably the painter Jacob Khien the younger who became a burgess of Besztercebánya in 1619. Pozsony sculptor Johann Christoph Khien (d. 1696/97), creator of the Holy Trinity column of Nagyszombat (1683–1695), and Ferdinand Khien, a doctor born in Besztercebánya who graduated at the University of Wittenberg (1667) and later worked in Eperjes and Pozsony were probably Johann Jacob Khün’s brothers. Judging by the 1659 letter and other sources, Khün’s brother Ferdinand may well have been helped with the starting of his medical career by Bonannus who probably interceeded for him to spend his pharmacist’s training in Johann Weber’s (1612–1684) pharmacy in Eperjes.

Khün’s letter implies that he may well have produced illustrations for Bonannus’s ambitious but ultimately unpublished and lost opus describing Hungary’s geographical and mineralogical treasures, entitled De admirandis Hungariae rebus, backed by archbishop Lippay and Lord Chief Justice Ferenc Nádasdy (1623–1671). The correspondence of Bonannus, a rare group of sources, provides some important data to the project and Khün’s surmized participation, and might as well lead to closer acquaintance with the process of furnishing and decorating of archbishop György Lippay’s summer residence and garden of Pozsony.

A year after the publishing of the print series Khün already worked as a court painter to Count (later Palatine and Prince) Pál Esterházy (1635–1713). Between 1664 and 1671 he produced at least eight paintings for him, and decorated sixteen rooms of his Kismarton Castle.

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