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Recent Hungarian and foreign researches into the reading customs of women in the 18–19th centuries display a peculiar duality. Some researchers evaluate the rapid growth in the number of reading women as a sign of emancipation, while others opine that reading novels further aggravated the social and cultural subordination of the women. Though many books written specifically for women – including calendars and literary almanacs – were basically aimed to prepare the women for their traditional social roles of good mother, good wife and good housewife, they also carried contents that served to enhance the women's level of culture, cultural competence and female self-awareness. The visual rendering of this endeavour is met with in the studied two series of Viennese book illustrations dating from the onset of the 19th century. Six pictures of a calendar show the woman's honoured place in the middle-class family, while the frontis-pieces of a book series popularizing the natural sciences depict women and girls moving as easily in the communal spaces of culture and learning as men.
„…‘S Haragszik, Szenved, Mint A’ Tragicus Schiller' Büsztje…“
Önreprezentáció és Kanonizáció Batsányi János és Gabriele von Baumberg Portréiban
Self-Representation and Canonization in The Portraits of János Batsányi and Gabriele von Baumberg
The best known and canonic portraits of the Hungarian poet János Batsányi (1763–1845) and his wife the Austrian poet Gabriele von Baumberg (1766–1839) were painted by the vice director of the Vienna art academy and director of the court gallery, Heinrich Füger (1751–1818) in the first decade of the 19th century. The surviving correspondence of the couple reveals that although formally the two portraits were made for private use, they deemed it important that after their deaths the portraits should become part of collective remembrance and posterity should cherish their memory through these images. The idealized and heroic character of Batsányi's portrait was recognized by the contemporaries, first of all Ferenc Kazinczy (1759–1831), a poet of extraordinary sensitivity to art.
Sympathizing with the ideas of the French revolution and Bonaparte's rule, Batsányi lived in exile in Linz with his wife from 1816. In the late 1820s he sent his portrait home to his childhood friend László Juranics (1765–1850), parish priest of Értény, who hung it in a central place. The priest wrote to Batsányi that the painting had many visitors, which shows that it laid claim to some interim space between the private and public spheres. Presumably by Juranics's last will (whereabouts unknown) the painting was included in the National Museum, the pantheon of national culture, in 1851, just a few years after Batsányi's death.
Though Batsányi promised his friend to send him his wife's portrait as well, he failed to do so. Her two portraits including the one painted by Füger showing her with the attribute of her vocation, the lyre, were discovered by a teacher from Kassa (Košice), Balázs Horváth (1858–?) in Linz who was searching for the memory of the literary couple. He mediated the portraits to bishop of Kassa Zsigmond Bubics (1821–1905) after whose death they went to the municipal museum. The canonization of the pictures was facilitated by the prints and photo reproductions in several 19th century Hungarian press organs and books.
Roma people are often depicted in Central European literature and fine arts in the end of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century. The topic was likely chosen not only because of an ethnographical interest, but also because orientalism in the nineteenth century meant for several Austrian artists the depiction of the life and customs of Hungarian and Transylvanian gypsies, who were believed to be originally from the East. In the second half of the century August Pettenkofen, who had often visited the town of Szolnok in the Great Hungarian Plain with his painter friends, also turned to the ‘exotic’ life of Hungarian peasants, csikós (horse-herdsmen) and nomadic gypsies. The artists of genre artworks depicting the folk, a genre flourishing in Hungary since the middle of the nineteenth century, also often choose the life and customs of Roma people as the topic of their art, usually presenting them in a detailed way and using stereotypes.
This study examines a different kind of depiction of Roma people in the nineteenth century in literature, artworks and music. The so-called ‘Three gypsies’ topic is currently believed to have appeared for the first time in 1836 in Ferenc Pongrácz’s painting, however, it became truly popular because of Nikolaus Lenau’s poem, which had a title similar to the painting’s and was published soon after the painting. The topic appears in several contemporary paintings and illustrations, and Ferenc Liszt also created a musical composition based on it. Lenau’s poem and the artworks inspired by it include a certain symbolical-philosophical approach instead of the ethnographic interest popular at the time or the anecdotical depiction of the everyday life of Roma people. The image of the three gypsies in the poem and the artworks and illustrations – the first one is playing a fiddle, the second one is smoking a pipe and the third one is sleeping – symbolizes not only the longing for a poor but free life without the yoke of social norms, but also illustrates different attitudes and philosophies of life (vita activa, vita contemplativa, turning away from the world).
The symbolical-philosophical nature of the poem and the artworks is emphasized by a significant part of these works, the motif of the instrument hung upon a tree, which first appears in Psalm 137 from the Old Testament. The psalm depicts the pain of the Jews suffering in the Babylonian captivity, who in their sorrow hung their harps upon the willows. The song about the sadness felt because of their exile and the loss of their home was later interpreted in the context of those times. The heartbreaking description of the destroyed home of the exiled Jews in János Thordai’s psalm written in the seventeenth century was likely inspired by the grief caused by the destruction of Hungary during the Ottoman rule. The motif of the instruments hung upon the tree, earlier related to society and nation, was enriched with new, individualistic meanings during the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The depictions of the atypical Three gypsies topic in literature and fine arts are more closely related to allegorical paintings from earlier centuries, for example Giorgone’s The Three Philosophers or The Three Ages of Man, than to the genre artworks in the nineteenth century depicting the life of Roma people in an anecdotal way.
„Végy társadnak a harczba…” A vitéz szigetvári nő(k) a 19. századi képzőművészetben
The valiant women of Szigetvár (1556) in 19th century art
The trope of the valiant woman/women fighting with arms during the Ottoman siege of Szigetvár in 1566 has mainly been studied by Hungarian historiography and literary history, and art history has hardly paid attention to the motif in the visual arts. In the historical and literary sources the trope has had three distinguishable – and sometimes connected – variants since the 16th century, each of them also represented in Hungarian works of art.
The story of the woman fighting at the side of her husband already cropped up in the Hungarian historical song created in the year of the battle: before the final charge the defenders wanted to kill their wives or brides to save them from falling into pagan hands but a valiant woman asked her husband to give her armour and weapon to fight the enemy. The story passed into the Transylvanian German poet Christian Schesaeus’ Ruinae Pannonicae (1571) and into a Latin-language album in memory of Miklós Zrínyi published in Wittenberg in 1587. The motif is included in the mid-17th century biographies of women by the French Jesuit poet Pierre Le Moyne, in the February 1749 issue of Mercure de France and in several 18-19th century German and Austrian periodicals and literary works. From the early 19th century the heroic deed of the brave woman of Szigetvár appeared in several Hungarian magazines and pieces of juvenile literature often together with the story of the valiant women of Eger.
The first visual representation of the brave woman of Szigetvár is the monumental painting about Zrínyi’s charge from Szigetvár by Austrian Peter Krafft created upon the commission of the National Museum in 1825: there is a helmeted woman with a determined look in her eyes among the troops charging out of the castle. This detail was to be repeated not only in several engravings made after Krafft’s painting but also in multiplied prints including title-pages of printed music.
Another variant of the trope appears in the Italian Giovanni Michele Bruto’s manuscript of the history of Hungary written in the 1570s-80s. In this version some brave women and mothers whom their husbands wanted to kill entreated them to let them die fighting against the foe with their children held as shields. This motif is included in German-language plays on Zrínyi by August Werthes and Theodor Körner written at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. The women and children locked in the castle are also shown in Alajos Rohn’s lithograph Zrínyi’s oath after Béla Vízkelety’s painting of a tableau vivant staged after Körner’s Zrínyi play in a charity performance at the National Theatre of Pest on 3 April 1860. Women and children are important actors in Bertalan Székely’s monumental painting Zrínyi’s charge (1879–1885) showing a woman picking up a fallen sword to fight the Ottomans.
The third variant of the motif of the courageous woman cropped up in literature at the turn of the 18-19th century: in the plays by Werthes and Körner Zrínyi’s wife blows up the powder-house with a torch to send as many of the intruding Ottomans into the netherworld as she could. The best-known example of the theme is the oil painting by Xavér Ferenc Weber The final moments of Szigetvár (1871) also shown at the 1873 Vienna World Fair. A fusion of historical and legendary elements can be seen in the 20th century colour print entitled Ilona Zrínyi’s heroism in defence of the castle of Munkács 1688 in which Ilona Zrínyi is about to dip her torch into a powder barrel to kill the invading Ottomans while defending the castle of Munkács in 1688 (actually against the Habsburg imperial troops).
Adatok II. Lajos magyar király páncélos ábrázolásaihoz
Addenda to Depictions of King Louis li of Hungary in Armour
Most of the posthumous portraits of Louis II, who died in the battle of Mohács in 1526, show him in armour. In some pictures he is wearing fictitious armour, but in other portraits he is clad in the armour which until 1939 was believed to had once been his, but actually had been made in 1533 for the Polish king Sigismund II Augustus and is currently kept in the Hungarian National Museum. The author of the study has examined the latter group of artworks. She describes the armours of Louis II, some only mentioned in archival sources or historical works. Some items that can certainly or presumably be attributed to him are kept in museums abroad. The first paintings in which Louis II is wearing the gilded ornamental armour were painted by István Dorffmeister in the mid-1780s. Since at that time the armour was on display in one of the gala rooms fitted out in Vienna’s Kaiserliches Zeughaus in the 1760s, the study discusses the history of the imperial armour and weapon collections and the conception of the arms exhibition in the Zeughaus at that time. After the demolition of the Zeughaus in 1856, the armour was transferred, together with the rest of the imperial collection of armours and weapons, to the war museum wing of the newly built Arsenal. The armour was presented by the Austrian catalogues of the museum as belonging to Louis II, and some items had illustrations added to them. The armour was introduced in Pest in 1876 at a historical exhibition for charitable purposes, and later in 1896 at the Millennial Exhibition. The Hungarian press also devoted articles to it, and several scholarly papers were written about the armour.
The prototypes for some of the 19th century artworks depicting Louis II in the Viennese armour – most of them local monuments preserving the memory of the battle – were István Dorffmeister’s paintings. His battle scene showing the death of Louis II appears in a sketch of an unrealized monument, dated 1846; in the picture painted on metal that adorned the monument in Mohács in the 1860s and on the bronze relief replacing it in the late 1890s. The antecedents to another group of representations must have been the 19th century Austrian and Hungarian descriptions and illustrations of the armour attributed to Louis II. The ruler wears this armour in several book illustrations and on the statue by Ferenc Vasadi on the Danubian facade of the Hungarian Parliament building.
Although these artworks presenting Louis II in Sigismund II Augustus’ armour do not satisfy the iconographic criteria of historical authenticity, they were up-to-date for their time, for instead of depicting the fictitious, often waywardly fantastic armours of earlier centuries, they presented the portrayed person in an existing armour made in his own era, that is, with a historically authentic appearance.