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His life-style: Architect. Miklós Ybl, the confidant of the Academy

Einleitung zu der wissenschaftlichen Konferenz und der Kabinettausstellung in der Kunstsammlung der Akademie anlässlich des 200. Geburtstages von Miklós Ybl, gehalten am 8. April 2014

Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Author: Ernő Marosi

This introduction is the edited version of the opening speech delivered at the scientific conference and exhibition commemorating the bicentenary of Miklós Ybl’s birth (1814–1891). As the first representative of the professional architect emancipated from the guild organization, Ybl still enjoys a quasi symbolic prestige in the Hungarian architectural community. Instead of becoming a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, he owed his success and great influence — upon determining the stylistic character of the Hungarian capital, Budapest from 1873, for example — to the confidence placed in him by the liberal aristocrats who played a leading role in the management of the scholarly institution. Since in the early 20th century the historicism of renaissance inspiration which he represented was discarded as eclectic academism, and in the decades of socialist realism the style was condemned for class-struggle reasons, it was only in the past two or three decades that the positive evaluation of the principle of style choice and pluralism of styles could gain ground. The paper stresses the continuity of neo-classicism and historicism reviving the gothic and the Romanesque styles as well as the neorenaissance mode in the tradition of the academic theory of architecture. It does not deny the importance of function but reckons with an iconological interpretation of function which is contradictory to 20th century functionalism.

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The cathedral “Esztergom II”. The construction of the St. Adalbert’s Cathedral in the twelfth century with an Excurse: To the chronology of the Early Gothic in the middle of the Kingdom as witneßsed by the Cistercian Abbey of Kerc (Cǎrţa, Kerz, RO), Transylvania. Among at least 4 construction periods of the medieval Cathedral (not counting additional buildings) the second building cannot be dated by written sources and is only witnessed by its High Romanesque and Early Gothic stone sculpture. As in the late seventeenth and in the eighteenth century stone elements from the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of Pilis were used as building material in Esztergom and later also medieval stone sculptures from the region (mainly from the provostry in Dömös) entered in the collection of the Esztergom Castle. The distinction among these related monuments has in recent times also determined our concept of reconstruction of the Esztergom Cathedral. This reconstruction can be based on a few authentic landscapes, on a series of surveys drawn by military engineers and a description of the ruins before their final demolition. The early book by J. B. Máthes (1827) also contains a detailed ground plan of the St. Adalbert Church – a survey drawing from the early eighteenth century with possible traces of an ideal reconstruction. In recent times more efforts were spent to hypotheses concerning the building I of St. Adalbert’s than to the second construction, the ruins of which were still standing by the middle of the eighteenth century. It was a basilical building originally with an apse (rebuilt as a polygonal choir in the fourteenth century) between two towers in the East. The levels of the oriental part of the church are well documented: as the canons’ choir in the 3 east bays of the nave was elevated by 2 steps over the aisles, the choir square with the main apse was higher than the chorus minor. As the altar of the Virgin Mary in front of the choir was dedicated in 1156, the eastern parts of the building together with several parts of the nave can be dated about this time. The sculptures belonging to this building are classicizing (Corinthian and composite) capitals, partly with figurative elements, going back to figurative capitals from Dömös and related to classicizing details from the construction of the first half of the twelfth century of the royal priory in Óbuda. It seems that the capitals have belonged to a construction both with composed piers and with columns – perhaps in a form of alternation. The nave was not vaulted until the fourteenth century, but vaulting in choir and also in the aisles seems probable. The western part of the nave was built with cross-shaped piers observed by an eighteenth century witness of the ruins. Capitals with acanthus leaves and also with elements of chapiteaux à crochet appear as typical elements of this style also present in the inferior room of the annex to the donjon of the royal Palace, which was built presumably in the 1180’s. The role of North-Italian (magistri campionesi and also Antelami) models in the transmission of stylistic elements of French Early Gothic mixed with Italian traditions has received a strong accent mainly in the art-historical literature of the last decades. The author indicates a very strong analogy of this orientation in Esztergom with the late twelfth century reconstruction of the Salzburg Cathedral of Archbishop Konrad III, the crypt of which was dedicated in 1219. The use of local red marbles – together with the polychromy of different stones – on a series of decorative works following the models of the Salzburg Cathedral in the first half of the thirteenth century is comparable to Esztergom. Recent research – supported both by analysis of sources, technical observations and also geological investigation – have proved that large surfaces of the Esztergom Cathedral were covered with red limestone plates, for obtaining a noble effect. The supposed chronology of Esztergom can be supported by a new chronology of the Transylvanian Cistercian Abbey of Kerc, where the earliest parts of the building seem to correspond to models in Esztergom and Pilisszentkereszt about the hypothetical foundation year 1202. The relationship of this workshop to the central region of the country found its continuation about 1220 as on Kerc monastery appear influences of later works of the same circle (Óbuda, royal palace, cathedral Kalocsa II) and elements of the South German Early Gothic (Magdeburg, Walkenried, Maulbronn) as well. The parish church in Szászsebes (Mühlbach, Sebeş, RO) can be considered as a parallel to Kerc Abbey. Among local followers of Kerc, in Brassó (St. Barthelemys’ Kronstadt, Braş ov, RO), and Halmágy (Holmwegen, Halmăgiu, RO) can be identified decorative and also figurative forms originating from Salzburg, maybe through the intermediary of Kalocsa. It seems, that up to the first third of the thirteenth century the model of Kerc is still valid for provincialized followers as Prázsmár (Tartlau, Prejmer, RO) and Szék (Sic, RO). The latest phase of its influence shows a modernisation following the cathedral of Gyulafehérvár (Weiβenburg, Karlsstadt, Alba Iulia, RO).

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Summary

The space above the arcades, divided by turrets housing the apostles on the gold embroided chasuble donated to the Royal provostry in Székesfehérvár in 1031 by the King St. Stephen and his wife Gisela (transformed later to the coronation mantle) are filled with enigmatic scenes. As no inscriptions are given, and there is no evident iconographic context, only types of figures and gestures can help in their interpretation. A part of the small figures are warriors attacking the towers of the architecture which seems to be identified with the Heavenly Jerusalem. Five scenes represent rulers sitting according to oriental modi and entoured by members of their court. The cycle may be influenced by the types of the Hispanian Beatus Commentary illustration. Its iconographic meaning can be an allusion to the prophecies of the Old Testament about the empires threating Jerusalem.

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The above review of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1957 as an organ for two disciplines of engineering sciences at the origin, and it appears after volume 12, since 1969 as a special review f__

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Summary

The expression corona latina concerning the upper part of the Holy Crown is used for a fictitious object. In this paper a dating from the late 12th century is accepted for the enamelled images on the curved bands, and they are considered as products of a historicizing tendency quoting models of the Ottonian period in the time of King Béla III. The crossed bands may have formed originally a reliquary of the head of Saint Stephen in Székesfehérvár, similar to the Stockholm reliquary of Saint Elizabeth. This type is reflected by the late gothic reconstruction of the reliquary of Saint Ladislas, which is perhaps an imitation based on the first, made at the end of 12th century.

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Abstract

The Ceremonial Hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which housed the inaugural ceremony of the Conference, and its wall paintings were showed as typical for the late 19th century concept of nationally minded Historicism and also for the prevailing role of Humanities in their relationship to Science – both of them opposed to the evolution in 20th century. The International Congresses of the History of Art held in Budapest – first in 1896, then in 1969 – mark clearly important moments in our historiography. The second was an occasion for the opening towards Western tradition. It stressed the importance of the regional consciousness in Central Europe – a principle, which is still valid in a politically changed and globalized world.

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Abstract

The traitment of the ornament on the richly decorated pieces from the Ercsi Abbey witnesses of a close relationship to the circle which is named in art historical literature after its main center as a group around Pécs, Székesfehérvár and Somogyvár. A new element of the articulation represents the presence of a special ending of vertical profiles, named in German art history as Hornauslauf and widely spread from the Rhine valley to Alsace and to Saxony as well. It may originate on the building of Worms Cathedral, which is now dated more closely to Speyer Cathedral in the first third of the 12th century. It could be appear in Ercsi in the last quarter of the 12th century, perhaps in the same time as e.g. in Wechselburg. This relationship can also be important for the origin of the ornamental forms, which may go back to unfinished ornamental pieces both in Worms and an Speyer. This form of articulation does not occur in any known works of the Pécs–Székesfehérvár–Somogyvár circle, but in a very sophisticated form on the exterior of the south apse of the Gyulafehérvár cathedral in Transylvania, which can be dated shortly before or around 1200.

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