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Dávid és Jónátán

A szerelem és a barátság allegóriája

Author: Zoltán Szilárdfy

The friendship of David and Jonathan is known from the Books of Samuel in the Old Testament. The presentation of the robe, the sword, the bow and the belt is the token of covenant. David’s death lament, an elegy over Jonathan’s bow given to him was called the bow song. Gottfried Bernhard Göz, a painter and graphic artist of Moravian origin working in Augsburg captured the story in an engraving with dotting. His rococo compositions were models for several painters. The oil painting in the diocesan museum of Székesfehérvár was probably made in Göz’s workshop.

The same theme features on the obverse of a 17th century silver coin recently included in the author’s collection. (The German legend reads ICH WILL DIR THUN WAS DEIN HERZ BEGEHRT – SAM. 20. V. 4) The reverse of the medal also expresses fraternity through the figures of Abraham and Lot (inscribed: WIR SIND GEBRUDER – Gen. 13. v. 8.) with well-to-do shepherds and their livestock in the background.

The art of Göz, his excellent knowledge of the Holy Writ and its use in allegories of vitues help us better interpret the baroque iconography.

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St John of God is the patron saint of booksellers and bookbinders. An engraving by Joseph Anton Schmidt of Augsburg depicts him, still in civilian clothes, in a baroque printing office of the engraver’s time, around 1770. Johann Andreas Pfeffel jr. made an engraved portrait of his father with a German text of 8 lines under it. My collection has two engravings from around 1670 showing engraving workshops.

Hereafter I am going to list types of Christ. In Johann Andreas Pfeffel sr.’s composition the triumphant Saviour is standing on the instruments of Passion on top of Golgotha, with the flag of Easter in his right hand. His favourite disciple is holding to a rope lowered by the Heavenly Father, his feet treading on the column of the flagellation. The meaning of the allegorical picture is illumined by a quotation from St John’s Gospel (6,44). The Lord Triumphing over Death is reminiscent of a painting by Giovanni Battista Tinti: the blood flowing from Jesus’s heart is gathered by an angel in a cup. Christ’s foot is treading on a skull, he is holding his cross with the wreath of thorns. The mannerist painter of Parma drew inspiration from Michelangelo’s Risen Christ in Rome’s S. Maria sopra Minerva. In a book illustration Pfeffel depicts the blood and water from the side of the transfigured Saviour as the material of the Eucharist, adoring angels gathering it in a chalice and a pitcher.

In Buda’s Víziváros district, on the first side altar on the right in the former Franciscan church (later belonging to the sisters of St Elizabeth) a painted version of the votive statue of Vir Dolorum in Matrei in Tyrol, of which János Fülöp Binder made an engraving, was venerated.

Two monumental works by Michelangelo Buonarroti convey the mystery of Easter. The statue of Jesus in BasBassano Romano was made by Michelangelo earlier (1514- 16) and can thus be taken as precedent to the sculpture of a similar theme in S. Maria sopra Minerva (1521). The dominant attribute is the cross. In the earlier sculpture, in addition to the ropes, sponge and loincloth, the robe of mockery is dropped by Christ’s left hand onto the column of his flogging, which also serves as support.

There is a short red jasper column in the middle of a recess opening from the St Zeno chapel in Rome’s Basilica di S Prassede. Cardinal Giovanni Colonna, the commander of the papal army of the fifth crusade (1219) brought it home from the Holy Land and set it up in 1223. It is allegedly the column of Christ’s flagellation. The Greek emperor Alexios I Komnenos listed the relics kept in Constantinople in 1092: he already mentioned the purple robe and the reed. A register of 1200 includes the sponge, the purple chlamys and the reed in the sanctuary of Hagia Sophia. After the transfer of the relics to Rome, the reed with the sponge could be found in the reliquary of the Sancta Sanctorum in the Lateran. The Lord’s loincloth was preserved in the cathedral of Aachen visited by pilgrims for plenary indulgence as late as the 16th century.

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Gottfried Bernhard Göz (1717–1780), the Augsburg painter and graphic artist, presented the allegorical portrait of Maria Theresa, as the Hungarian ruler, with a royal motto: Justice and Mercy. The characteristic feature of the composition is a hussar looking out directly from the painting and symbolizing the most loyal subject of the nation, ready to give his life and blood for the sovereign Lady.

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The Intercession scene on top of the Late Gothic retable of St. George in Szepesszombat is interpreted here on the base of the arrows in the hand of God Father as related to the iconography of pest epidemy.

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The author, a priest and art historian, is a collector and donator of art works of sacral contents, first of all small graphics. He has brought the special handcrafted pieces of mixed technique, the so-called nuns’ works to the attention of art historians. In an auction in Budapest in 2017 he managed to buy an 18th century copperplate engraving printed on silk and richly embellished with embroidery and pearls. It shows the miracle of striking water by the Hungarian king Saint Ladislaus. The cult of St Ladislaus in the baroque age is also perpetuated by folk hymns; together with the Holy Virgin (Patrona Hungariae) he is the patron of Hungary. Another of his acquisitions is an oval porcelain painting of the bust of St Dorothy from the 19th century. Unfortunately, he failed to get the third remarkable piece of art, another 18th century nuns’ work. It shows Empress Maria Theresa as St Elizabeth of Hungary distributing alms. Maria Theresa founded the episcopacy of Székesfehérvár in 1777 and ordered a new high altar for the cathedral. The high altar by Viennese painter Vinzenz Fischer shows the scene of placing the Holy crown, that is, the country under the Virgin Mary’s protection achieved by King St Stephen and in the sculpted parts St Elizabeth appears, too.

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Farewell to meat – carnevale – was the origin of the initially innocent merry-making customs that came into use around Shrovetide, near the Lenten season. This frolicking gradually deteriorated so much that Pope Benedict XIV had to issue a decree “inter cetera de bacchanalibus” to warn the believers. Some peculiar crucifix representations allude to these carnival excesses in a moralizing, allegorical form.

In the engraved icon of Hieronymus Wierix (1553–1619) (owned by the author) the crucifix allegory shows perhaps the embodiments of the seven deadly sins. They try to make the youth standing at the foot of the cross swerve away from pious life. The Latin caption of the engraving is from St Paul's letter to the Romans (Rom 8,35; 8,38–39). The second important depiction of the theme is in the graphic collection of the Benedictine abbey of Göttweig. The engraved sheet is the work of Matthäus Küsell (1629–1681) after Johann Christoph Storer's (1611?–1671) drawing. The bustling scene takes place on Calvary Hill. In the celestial sphere, on both sides of the darkened Sun and Moon, angels are hovering, two of them holding a banderol. Among the Vice figures torturing Christ a few characters of the Passion can also be discovered: Longinus with the lance, the soldiers who cast lots, the figure offering the sponge. In the right-hand corner a weeping angel is guarding the Arma Christi. The banderol refers to the crucified Christ, the rest of the characters actualize the scenario of Good Friday in a figurative sense. The latest graphic piece of the theme is an engraving possibly by Franz Karl Heissig (?–?) (owned by the author) from the mid-18th century. The Latin and German inscriptions unmistakably refer to the message of carnival crosses and also make allusions to the bacchanals of pagan Rome. The penitent Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross is the only positive figure, the rest around her are embodiments of immoderate carnival revelries.

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Abstract

Information on the life of Saint Lazarus was collected by the scribe who continued the Chronicle of Theophanes. It was also elaborated by Kedrenos. He was born in Armenia and came to byzantium at a young age to become a painter and monk. In 832 Theophilus order the destruction of icons. To persuade Lazarus, he summoned him. The tortures of the painter were put an end to by Empress Theodora. In gratitude to her, he painted an icon of St John the Baptist which worked miracles after Theophilus' death, and then he painted a large icon of Christ. Emperor of Byzantium Michael III sent him to Rome in 856 to the newly elected Pope Benedict III to discuss the possibility of reconciliation between the two churches and restore unity. An uncertain source mentions his death during another mission to Rome in 867. He is allegedly buried in Galata in the monastery of Evanderes. His cult in the Roman church was actualized by the “iconoclasm” of the Protestants. The council of Trent – similarly to the second Council of Nicea earlier – decided in favour of the veneration of icons.

The finest specimens of St Lazarus's iconography were produced by the noted copperplate engraving workshops of Augsburg. The illustration dating from 1753 of the Life of Saints by Joseph Giulini was popular all over Europe. In the engraving by Christian Halbauer made after Johann Wolfgang Baumgartner of the episode of Lazarus' arrest Christ on the cross can also be seen. The most important depiction shows the sainted monastic painter in a baroque atelier, working on his painting of St John the Baptist in the monastery of Phoberon. The hagiographic series of Annus dierum Sanctorum was sold in a volume already in the age of its creation, between 1737 and 1742. The indispensable series for the research of baroque iconography was the outcome of the joint endeavour of Gottfried Bernard Göz, Joseph Sebastian and Johann Baptist Klauber in Augsburg. Among the historicizing painters of the 19th century, Domenico Morelli depicted the four monks persecuted by Emperor Theophilus in bright colours in 1855, with the icon of St John the Baptism hanging behind the four condemned monks.

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Art historical and ethnographic literature has elaborated in detail the cultic history and iconography of Christ as Apothecary, the first synthesis of which theme does credit to Wolfgang-Hagen Hein. He found the patristic roots of the theme in St Augustine's Easter sermon “De doctrina christianae”, in which Christ is “ipse medicus”, “ipsa medicina” (doctor and medicine himself). In his book of 2002 Fritz Krafft also addressed himself to the theme. He names the eucharist, the oil and wine of the chemist as signs of the catholic sacramental liturgy. The ethnographic implications were exposed by Lenz Kriss-Rettenbeck and Leopold Schmidt. The earliest representation is the illumination in a manuscript of around 1519–1528 in which Christ is writing out a prescription for the first parents Adam and Eve. The picture type was disseminated in oil and glass paintings over the 17th and 18th centuries. The listed works are complemented with the presented copperplate engravings in the author's collection and the painted picture from the one-time pharmacy of the Ursulines in Vienna.

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A special iconographic interpretation of the Holy Trinity is represented by an engraving kept in the Strahov abbey library of the Premonstratensian canons of Prague. The print was made after Dionysius Strauss' drawing and is the artist's first extant holy image engraved in copperplate. In the monastery of Hradiško u Olomouce Strauss was regarded as the artist of the order respected for the inventiveness of his themes. It is a known fact from 1695 that he presented a painting on the birthday of prior Bernard Wanzke showing the crucified Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit with lambs feeding on the blood gushing forth from the Son's side. Undoubtedly, the graphic sheet marked “P. Dion. Straus delin. — J. Tscherning sculp.” was made after the lost painting. The words in the banderole above the composition “ut vitam habeant” (that they may have life) are from St John's gospel (Jn 10,10).

A somewhat modified variant of the theme is a copperplate engraving also from the late 17th century by Johann Gaspar Gutwein (1669–1730) who worked in Prague, Brno, Augsburg, Regensburg and Graz. The print marked “J. G. Gutwein sc. Brunae” probably adorned the flyleaf of a book. This precious specimen of my private collection shows an infant angel with clasped hands behind the cross, with a quotation from St Luke's gospel on the banderole falling down by its elbow: “… parata sunt omnia” (all things are now ready, Luke 14,17). The words refer to the feast of the flock of the Saviour. The blood and water from the side of Christ collected in a pearl-shell refer to the life-giving and maintaining sacraments of baptism and the eucharist from which the scrawny lambs will gain strength.

There is a little known 18th century oil painting in the St Maurice Benedictine monastery of Bakonybél. There are no inscriptions, but white lambs are feeding on the life-giving blood which has cleaned them, flowing from Christ's side into a bowl. The tree of paradise with the serpent is in the background to indicate that Christ's sacrifice on the cross was made in reparation of the original sin: Christ defeated Satan on the cross. This peculiar version of the Holy Trinity representations originated from catholic Moravia in the Tridentine revival of spirituality in Central Europe, as the above described depictions suggest.

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The paper describes a unique masterpiece of baroque graphic art: a copper engraving by G. B. Göz (1708-1774) for a so-called crucifix clockwork typical of the 17th-18th century. The engraving in the Collection of Pannonhalma Benedictine Monastery - exhibited for the first time on the occasion of the Millennium - illustrates the episodes of the last 24 hours of Jesus Christ's life on earth, with a large variety of biblical motifs and rich “rocaille” decorations.

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