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  • Author or Editor: Szabolcs Serfőző x
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The Podmaniczky Mansion in Aszód was built in 1727– 1730 by János Podmaniczky (1691–1743). In 1767–1772 the building was extended by his sons, János (1716–1786) and Sándor (1723–1786), who resided with their families in the eastern and western wing of the mansion.

In 1776 Sándor Podmaniczky commissioned Johann Lucas Kracker and his assistant, Joseph Zach, specialised in trompe l’oeil architectural painting to fresco the ceremonial hall of the mansion, located at the southern end of the western wing. The ceiling painting features in the centre the allegorical female figure, a Justifying Faith (fides iustificans), holding the Holy Script with the inscription Sola scriptura. She is surrounded by allegories of different virtues, such as Divine Mercy (Caritas Dei), Humility, Generosity, Hospitality, Temperance, Self-restraint and Right Judgement. On the right of the ceiling the female figure of Wisdom is to be seen striking down the Vices. In the four corners of the ceiling further four virtue-allegories are located: Honesty, Fame, Diligence and the Love of Virtues.

The moralizing programme of the vivid ceiling painting is accompanied by grisaille, statue- and relief-like representations on the sidewalls. The illusionistic statues of Seneca and Alexander the Great represent two classical virtues: wisdom and heroic pugnacity. On the longer walls of the hall four illusionistic busts of four Classical deities (Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto and Ceres) represent the four elements. Above them relief-like mythological scenes are to be seen: two episodes from the youth of Bacchus, the story of Apollo and Daphne and finally the contest of Apollo and Pan.

The complex, moralizing iconographic programme conveyed by the wall and ceiling paintings can be interpreted in the context of the Lutheran ethics, as the com missioner himself was of Lutheran confession. Lutheran teachings on ethics have fundamentally differed from the scholastic doctrine on theological and cardinal virtues and have defined a different canon of virtues. This Lutheran virtue’s canon is reflected in the iconography of the ceiling painting to a large extent. The Olympic deities and mythological scenes featuring on the side walls symbolise the material world, as opposed with the spiritual sphere represented by the virtue-allegories on the ceiling. The overall message of the paintings is that living a pious, virtuous life, conducted by faith, avoiding vice and exercising self-restraint leads the soul to heaven, in harmony with the Lutheran doctrine of justification.

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The paper analyses the baroque ceiling paintings of the Pauline pilgrimage church in Šaštín (Slovakia), signed in 1757 by Jean-Joseph Chamant, scene designer and theatre architect at the Vienna court and protégé of Emperor Franz I Stefan of Lorraine. In 1736 Franz Stefan purchased manors in the neighbourhood, thus became patron of the pilgrimage church in Šaštín, built in 1736–62. The Emperor and Queen Maria Theresa frequently visited the pilgrimage shrine while sojourning in their chateau in Holiè and contributed with significant donations to the construction of the church, and then to the decoration of the church interior: the high altar was commissioned by the Queen in 1762 and designed by the court architect Nikolaus Pacassi. According to archival sources Chamant's fee was paid by the Paulines, consequently the frescos can not be qualified as explicit court commission. Chamant was the primary contractor of the work, yet, being a scene designer, his contribution to the fresco cycle must have been limited to the painted architecture, including a trompe-l'oeil dome over the nave. The figurative compositions of the fresco cycle were carried out presumably by Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer, professor of the Vienna Art Academy, who received several court commissions in the 1750s. The fresco cycle consists of allegorical scenes referring to Christ's redeeming death, in correlation with the miraculous statue, a Pietà, placed on the high altar.

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