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Adatok II. Lajos magyar király páncélos ábrázolásaihoz

Addenda to Depictions of King Louis li of Hungary in Armour

Művészettörténeti Értesítő
Author: Papp Júlia

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.

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