The first great figure of panel painting in medieval Hungary was the painter Thomas de Coloswar, whose only surviving work is the Calvary-altarpiece from Garamszentbenedek (Hronský Benˇadik, Slovakia), preserved today at the Christian Museum of Esztergom. The altarpiece was completed in 1427, and was commissioned by Nicholaus, son of Peter of Garamszentbenedek, cantor of the royal chapel at Buda castle. Generations of Hungarian and foreign researches have dealt with the significance and origins of this great work, and discussed the likely origins of its painter. In recent scholarship, there seems to be an agreement that the style of the painter stems from the International Gothic style of the Prague court – a style also incorporating French, Burgundian and Italian elements. It has also been suggested that the painter may have left Prague for Hungary at the time and because of the Hussite revolution. In my paper, I would like to demonstrate instead that the origins of the painting style of Master Thomas are to be found in Nuremberg, at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Thomas de Coloswar is closely connected to Nuremberg workshops around 1420, which developed after the completion of the main altar of the Frauenkirche in Nuremberg. Iconographic, stylistic, and historical observations will be discussed to support this proposition, which gives us a chance to re-evaluate painting at the court of King Sigismund as well. Observations concerning the portrait of Emperor Sigismund in Nuremberg and on the Calvary-altar from Garamszentbenedek are also included, as they strongly support the connection outlined in the study.
The small panel painting of The Madonna lactansin a Landscape in the Christian Museum of Esztergom was attributed by its former owners to Petrus Christus. The composition derives from a popular painting by Robert Campin, The Virgin in an Apse. The technical examinations of the painting proved, that the panel is heavily overpainted. Allthough the dendrochronological examinations proved that the panel itself is from 1445–1455, the style of the painting is close to Barend van Orley.
The Madonna (inv.no. 55.187) in the Christian Museum of Esztergom from the former Bertinelli collection was first attributed to Pesellino by Bernard Berenson (1932). Most recently (2004) Megan Holmes identified it mistakenly as an early replica of the Boston variant, although it seems to be made around 1450, about seven years earlier. The infrared reflectography of the Madonna in Esztergom (2009) revealed that the underdrawing of the painting was carried out with the help of pricked cartoon and the spolvero technique, but the artist elaborated it in great detail and modified the forms at several points. A comparison with the underdrawing of the Boston version made it clear that in the latter case the artist did not apply the same cartoon and used quite different working methods. The aesthetic effect of the Esztergom picture, the sophisticated combination of drawing and painting skills ascribes it a special place among contemporaneous paintings examined in the same manner.
Adalékok az esztergomi Keresztény Múzeum egy bolognai képéhez
Contributions to a Bolognese painting in the Christian Museum, Esztergom
I wish to prove that the painting preserved in the store of the Christian Museum of Esztergom attributed to: “Bolognese painter, last quarter of the 16th century: Self-Portrait of the Artist with his Family” was painted in 1583–84 by Tiburzio Passarotti (1553–1612), the first-born son of the great Bolognese painter Bartolomeo Passarotti (1529–1592). The painting shows Tiburzio's wife, Taddea Gaggi and his younger son, Arcangelo. I have the following most important analogues to the attribution and the date of the work: Tiburzio Passarotti's Self-Portrait in the Uffizi, Florence, and Bartolomeo Passarotti's Family Picture in Dresden. I would like to underline that the painting attributed to “Emilian painter, last quarter of the 16th century: Portrait of a Noble Family” found in a privat collection in Hungary was executed by Bartolomeo Passarotti by his own hand. My opinion is verified by the comparision of the relatively late works of Bartolomeo. This picture (1582–83) also represents the portraits of Taddea Gaggi and Arcangelo.
The large triptych in the Esztergom Christian Museum, painted in 1427 by Thomas de Coloswar, is a work of art typical of the International Gothic style, and includes formal elements that can be related to the schools of Bohemia, or better to the school of Nuremberg. The painting is analysed from an iconographic point of view, pointing out the most peculiar features, that may lead to an interpretation of the altarpiece also as an affirmation of the Catholic Eucharist doctrine. A new panel painting is added here to Thomas’ catalogue: a Vir Dolorum with Saint Francis receiving the stigmata in Cologne (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum), formerly attributed to the Master of the Lindau Lamentation (Meister der Lindauer Beweinung).