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  • Author or Editor: Emese Sarkadi Nagy x
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Emese Sarkadi Nagy observe la frontière entre les pays sicules et saxons, cherchant les filiations artistiques entre les principaux ateliers et les artistes locaux. Dépassant la seule question artistique, elle place son étude dans le contexte intellectuel, économique et politique de la Transylvanie aux XVe et XVIe siècles.

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„Az Boldog Aszszony képet radiusba vegyem”

Szempontok a csíksomlyói Madonna művészettörténeti elemzéséhez

Author: Emese Sarkadi Nagy

The first written evidence that is usually connected to the statue of the Virgin Mary in the Franciscan church of Csíksomlyó (Șumuleu Ciuc, Schomlenberg) dates from 1624, when an inventory mentions a sculpture of the Virgin and Child on a secondary altarpiece dedicated to the Holy Virgin. The identification with the present figure is however only hypothetic. Sure is, that the statue was placed on the new high altarpiece, executed by joiner János Nyerges/Hannes Sadler from Brassó (Kronstadt, Braşov) in 1664. Nothing is known on the figure previous to these dates and we have no information on its original provenance. The dimensions (of 210 cm without her baroque crown) and the way the backside is carved suggest, that the figure surely belonged to an important altarpiece of quite large dimensions, with a shrine probably higher than 3 - 3,50 meters.

The Franciscan manuscripts from the 17th-18th centuries never mention that the figure would have ever belonged to the (high) altarpiece of the Csíksomlyó monastery church, instead they repeat that its provenance is unknown, only explained by legends. One of these legends, which has a certain probability though, noted by Leonard Losteiner in his manuscript dedicated to the sculpture of the Virgin Mary and her miracles, says that the statue could have been brought from the village of Höltövény (Heldsdorf, Hălchiu), a church which even today preserves its notably large winged altarpiece, with a shrine of 361 cm, which would perfectly fit the figure in point. Also the local historical literature knows of some devotional figures having been once moved from Höltövény to Csíksomlyó. However, the idea remains a hypothesis until it can be proved. Sure is, that only the workshops of the Transylvanian Saxon towns were prepared to produce at the beginning of the 16th century sculptures of such dimensions.

A detailed observation of the statue shows that a number of its characteristics differ a lot from the style known at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The figure was most probably slightly remodelled, renewed, repaired perhaps with the occasion of its placement to the high altarpiece in 1664, but later interventions are also possible.

The fact, that the figure was brought to Csíksomlyó and placed on the high altarpiece of the church in a new function of a cult image could have to do with the introduction of the Pentacost pilgrimage, the first mention of which dates to 1649. The first miracles of the statue are documented right after its placement on the high altar and these have probably contributed to the spread of the new pilgrimage and through this to the renewal of the monastery itself, almost completely depopulated by the second half of the sixteenth century.

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The Christian Museum in Esztergom preserves an epitaph depicting the Death of the Virgin Mary. The panel painting, dated by its inscription to 1498, was ordered by Stephan Geinperger, then burgher of Wiener Neustadt, for his deceased wife, Dorothea Gerolt. The donor’s name was for a long time misread as “Heinperger”, thus hindering his identification. The correct transcription made it possible to reveal information about the person of the donor and detect his family and their kinship network in the contemporary written documents. Based on the inscription and the archival material in Wiener Neustadt, Knittelfeld, Nuremberg, Passau and other related towns, the lives of Geinperger and his wife could be reconstructed and a stepfamily could be identified. In addition, the original placement of the epitaph was determined as was the social topography of the related families in Wiener Neustadt, including their economic and social importance. Moreover, art historical analysis placed the painting in the artistic milieu of the wider region.

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