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Krönungsporträt Ferdinands III. von Justus Sustermans aus dem Jahre 1626

Die ungarische tracht als mittel der machtrepräsentation bei den königskrönungen anfang des 17. Jahrhunderts

Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Enikő Buzási

Coronation portrait of Ferdinand III from 1626. The Hungarian costume as a tool of power representation in early 17 th century royal coronations. Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg was crowned king of Hungary in Sopron, West Hungary, on 8 December 1625. His attire worn during the ceremony was identical with the apparel he is depicted in the portrait attributed to Justus Sustermans. The painting was engraved by Wolfgang Kilian in 1629. Though Ferdinand was crowned king of Bohemia in 1627, the engraving shows him in the costume worn during the Hungarian coronation. The Hungarian attire first received a symbolic role in the monarchic representation of Habsburg kings at the coronation of Matthias II as king of Bohemia: he entered the electoral diet and coronation ceremony in Prague in the Hungarian costume, and the Bohemian coronation medals also feature him in Hungarian clothes. That is how he is depicted in the portrait by Hans von Aachen, in which the Bohemian crown and the Hungarian costume jointly represented the dual (Hungarian-Bohemian) royal title.

The Hungarian costume also had a protocol role in diplomatic relation with the Ottomans: the Viennese envoys appeared in the sultan’s court wearing Hungarian attire, because the monarchic power of the Habsburgs was exclusive acknowledged by the Ottoman Turks in their dignity as kings of Hungary. In West Europe, the costume of the Hungarians defending the eastern frontiers of Christendom implied the meaning of the protectors of the faith and was integrated in the representation of the Habsburgs toward Europe in this sense.

The first known owner of the portrait is Diego Mexía Felipez de Guzmán, marquis Leganés, whose inventories for 1637, 1642 and 1655 include the painting as item 475, without the painter’s name. The number is still visible on the painting. The Madrid picture collection of Leganés was the most significant collection by a Spanish aristocrat, a third comprising portraits of members of European royal families and nobility.

The historic significance of the portrait of Ferdinand III is the highly accurate, in colour true depiction of the Hungarian crown, one of the earliest authentic renderings of the insignia. The exact details suggest that it was surveyed in person, but the order of keeping the coronation insignia only made viewing possible during the coronation. Literature registers that Sustermans visited Vienna twice, for a lengthier period in 1623–1624 to depict members of the ruling family. The portrait of Ferdinand III suggests he made a third trip, at the time of the coronation in Sopron. According to the inscription on the back, the picture was made in January 1626, presumably already in Florence. It passed from a private owner abroad into the collection of the Hungarian National Gallery in 1992.

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The series of copper engravings representing Hungarian noblemen (Icones illustrium heroum Hungariae), which was prepared by Elias Wideman, appeared in 1652 at Vienna as the last piece of a three-part series containing a hundred portraits each. This unit of a hundred portraits, which offered a cross-sectional view of 17th-century Hungarian noble society, exerted a strong influence upon the further development of the portrait in Hungary. The three volumes were sponsored by field marshall count Johann Christoph Puchheim, whose decision probably underlay the fact that whereas the first two volumes (Vienna, 1646 and 1649) published, with only 18 exceptions, the portraits of Austrian or imperial aristocrats, the third one contained exclusively those of noblemen from the territories subjected to the Crown of Saint Stephen. This latter, “Hungarian” volume differed from the two previous ones not only with regard to the persons portraited, but also in that the full-page family coat-of-arms of Puchheim gave place to the copper engraved picture of the Hungarian Crown there.

The Wideman literature has so far regarded the volume's representation of the Crown as the exact copy of the copper engraving which was prepared by Wolfgang Kilian in 1613 at Augsburgban for the book of Péter Révay on the Holy Crown. Yet a thorough examination of the two engravings has yielded a different result: it is not a copy which was published in the volume of Wideman in 1652 but the Kilian engraving itself pressed from the original plate. The reuse of the copper plate has hitherto escaped the attention basically for two reasons. Firstly, the representation of the Crown at Wideman is already closer to reality, reproducing correctly the number of its hangers; secondly, the engraving which appeared in 1652 is not signed. The two things are probably related: it may have been a consequence of the alteration made in the representation of the Crown that the name of Révay, the inventor, and that of Kilian, the engraver, were removed in the course of the reworking. Yet the identity of the copper plate is still proved by the visible remnants of the removed details on the Crown's representation in the Wideman volume.

Consequently, the question emerges of how and where was the copper plate, prepared by Wolfgang Kilian at Augsburg forty years before, found, and by whom and why was it transferred to Wideman to Vienna to be published in the Icones? The plate, which returned to the author, Péter Révay in 1613, was consequently inherited by his grandson, judge royal Ferenc Nádasdy, who cared for the intellectual heritage of his grandfather. When the goods of the judge royal, who was tried and executed for high treason in 1671, were listed at Pottendorf, two plates representing the Hungarian Crown were inventoried, one of them with the abbreviated name of Augsburg attached. This was probably the plate prepared by Kilian in 1613, whereas the other apparently the one made for the Crown' representation in the second edition of the book which was published at the expenses of Nádasdy in 1652.

All that could so far be found out on the relationship between Ferenc Nádasdy and the portrait series published by Wideman is that the Hungarian-related representations of the two volumes (1646, 1652) were at least partially engraved by Wideman on the basis of the portrait gallery of Nádasdy which represented his contemporaries. Yet the reuse of the original Kilian plate, which can be proved to have been owned by Nádasdy, raises the further possibility that the hitherto unknown initiator and intellectual director of the third, exclusively Hungarian volume may have been (perhaps together with others) Ferenc Nádasdy himself, a hypothesis that is underpinned by the recently reconstructed relationship between Nádasdy and Puchheim. It was probably Nádasdy who ordered Wideman to modify the copper plate borrowed for the volume, and to alter the engraving of the Crown according to exact information. The source of the correction of the representation may have been Nádasdy himself, who participated to the coronation of Ferdinand IV as Master of the Hungarian Royal Court in 1647, and was thus offered the possibility of a thorough examination of the otherwise invisible Crown and could consequently give a detailed description of it to Wideman.

It was not by pure chance that the volume containing the portraits of 100 Hungarians was headed by the engraving from the book of Révay on the Holy Crown, for the latter's conceptofthecrownfocussed precisely upon the idea of the “nation of estates”. The same concept was expressed by the iconography of Wideman's Icones by collecting the representatives of the nation of estates behind Révay's representation of the Crown. The volume of portraits can thus be regarded as an example of the intensification of the national identity of the estates in the 17th century.

The work of Wideman which was published in 1652 influenced the consequent development of portrait painting in the 17th century in several regards. Painted noble portrait galleries were made in series by the adoption of the so-called Wideman type, and later even a demand emerged to supplement the painted versions with the portraits of further persons. The two most renowned series of small-scale oil paintings (one of them with 136 portraits) belonged to the Csáky family, and were in all probability prepared in the last quarter of the 17th century upon the order of judge royal István Csáky, renowned for his literary activities.

The importance and initial influence of the Wideman engravings mainly manifested itself in the transformation which took place in the iconography of the Hungarian noble portraits. The change of identity which resulted in the disappearance from the middle of the 17th century of Western European wear from the Hungarian female portraits, and in the representation of aristocratic women in Hungarian costume, is to be accounted for by the appearance of the Icones and the emergence of a united “nation of estates”. The reason was surely not a change of fashion, but the intention of representing themselves on the portraits as members of the Hungarian noble society, which, as a phenomenon, is most conspicuous in the representations of the female members of families loyal to the Habsburg court. The exclusiveness of Hungarian wear on the female portraits will wane together with the 17th century and with Ottoman rule in Hungary, and so will several other elements of traditional courtly culture.

The next phase in the transformation of the representation of the Hungarian aristocracy was connected to the Mausoleum, a series of representations of Hunno-Hungarian leaders and Hungarian kings, which was published in 1664 at Nuremberg, and sponsored by Nádasdy. On the basis of some characteristic examples it can safely be stated that the serial production of noble ancestral portrait galleries began in the decade following the appearance of the Mausoleum engravings, and was conspicuously accompanied by an effort to root the past of the individual families through these portrait galleries in the very beginnings of Hungarian history. It was then that the portrait series began to be completed with the representations of ancestors beyond one generation, for which the composition of the Mausoleum engravings was frequently put to use.

Since it is from the portrait series of the most important aristocratic families that the earliest adaptations of the Mausoleum engravings are known, the logical question arises of whether Ferenc Nádasdy himself ordered family portraits to be made on the model of the Mausoleum. The answer is no. Yet he turned with conspicuous attention towards portrait painting, his library catalogue containing six different volumes of engraved portraits, an outstanding number in this period. Likewise unique was his drive to create a portrait gallery by having his contemporaries eternalised in painting, thus establishing the virtual Hungarian royal court with the portraits of all the persons who held one of the chief offices in the period between 1645 and 1655. The beginning of his gallery of contemporaries was not unrelated to the ascending course of his public and political career, which began with his appointment as Master of the Hungarian Royal Court and his parallel accession to the chief office-holders (1646). His appointment as secret court councillor (1662) and royal lieutenant (1667), on the other hand, prompted him to give expression to his ever closer attachment to the imperial aristocracy in terms of portrait representation. Accordingly, Nádasdy, as he rose higher in the court hierarchy, and aimed at a closer integration into the Vienna elite, imitated the lifestyle of the court aristocracy and adopted their forms of representation. It was thus only natural that the artistic setting of his castle at Pottendorf in Lower Austria was characterised by the elements of imperial representation. Before all, by those series of imperial portraits of which three are listed by the castle inventory. Among the two series comntaining the portraits of Habsburg rulers, one was modelled upon the engravings of Francesco Terzio (Imagines Gentis Austriae), whereas the third was an adaptation of the popular series which followed Tizian's portraits of the Roman emperors or, to be correct, the engravings which Aegidius Sadeler made of them. The occasions which emphasised the social position of the judge royal, and offered the possibility of a close connection with the court, likewise prove that Nádasdy pursued a “two-way” personal representation, staging himself simultaneously as a member of two elites: an aristocrat of the Habsburg court and a leading office-holder of the Hungarian Kingdom. This accounts for the fact that he did not surround himself with representations of his family past embedded in national history. The message of his portrait representation spoke about himself, and reflected his real or desired status within his own social circle.

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The so-called holy crown of Hungary has been one of the most important elements in early modern Hungarian political thought, which resulted in countless images from medieval till modern times. This article treats the connection between the various crown images and descriptions of the exterior of the crown and the change of the political meaning of the crown between 1572 and 1665. Using a constructivist method of research, an attempt is made to answer the question of how the crown was depicted in art, what was the function and meaning of this depiction, how this image and function of the crown changed, and how this change can be explained. The focus of the author is on the political developments around 1608 in Hungary, in which the crown, its meaning and image played a dominant role. The function of the crown changed between 1572 and 1608 from a symbol of legitimacy of royal Habsburg power to that of the political claims of the estates of the Kingdom of Hungary. This can be observed in the work of István Illésházy, Elias Berger, János Jessenius, Lucas Kilian, Wolfgang Kilian, Péter Révay, Christoph Lackner, Márton Schödel, Hieronymus Ortelius and others. The change of use, image and meaning of the crown can be explained by the “visual turn”, which according to Peter Burke occurred in the beginning of the 17th century. The attention of historians of that period was drawn to artefacts and images of the past which were used as sources of political legitimacy and incorporated in political thought. The change of the image and meaning of the crown in Hungary was thus a part of a European development in the history of art and political thought.

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