The ceiling fresco commemorating the awarding of the St. Stephan's Order in 1764 by Maria Theresia was painted by Maulbertsch probably in 1768/68 in the Council's room of the Vienna Hungarian Chancellary, and can be compared with the rather documentative charachter of the pictorial representation of the same event by the Meytens-workshop in Schönbrunn (1768). Maulbertsch’ allegorical representation clearly corresponds to the aims of its commisioner, Chacelor Count Franz Esterházy.
The author devotes a series of articles to the iconographic and pictorial specificities of the perished ceiling frescoes of Szombathely cathedral. The frescoes were painted on the basis of Franz Anton Maulbertsch's sketches after his unexpected death by Joseph Winterhalder jr. and after the latter's death, by Anton Spreng between 1798 and 1808. Each of the three great frescoes has a different relationship with Maulbertsch's sketches and his concept of ceiling decoration, and in the course of the execution of the work Winterhalder, “the best pupil of Maulbertsch” also changed his attitude to the ongoing work.
The present paper introduces the first piece of the cycle, the Annunciation in the chancel. After Maulbertsch's death Bishop János Szily asked Maulbertsch's father-in-law the engraver Jakob Schmutzer to find a competent fresco painter. He recommended Winterhalder, reporting in enthusiastic terms about the striking resemblance of his style with Maulbertsch's. As the sources reveal, the client did not want to find a Maulbertsch imitator at first and would have respected the artistic originality of the new painter. He was not aware that Winterhalder's successes as a fresco painter were largely due to his ability to reproduce and vary the formal and compositional solutions learnt from his master. After arriving in Szombathely, the painter assured the bishop to continue the original concept of Maulbertsch and not to work after own invention.
When Winterhalder began decorating the chancel ceiling, he had a lot of work ahead on the basis of the bozzetto he received. It was exceptionally rare that Maulbertsch elaborated a detailed design corresponding exactly with the final composition. Usually he only determined the foci of the composition and the protagonists, adding the details ad lib on the ceiling, drawing them in free hand with the brush. Having learnt this method working in Maulbertsch's workship, experienced Winterhalder seems to not have been perplexed by the job of filling the huge vault with a rich composition whereas the sketch only contained the chief motifs. Apart from the bozzetto, another source of the Maulbertschian motifs was a work in Moravia, the central ceiling fresco in the nave of the church of Dyje (Mühlfraun). Winterhalder, too, had been involved in the execution of the fresco and – just like in many other places – he probably made ricordi of Maulbertsch's composition and figural groups, which he must have found appropriate to be used in Szombathely as well. The figure of the adoring angel leaning over a cloud or Saint Michael sitting in contrapposto are exact borrowings from Dyje, and the basic concept of the composition also derives from there. The female figures of the Old Testament in the window zone are also based on another Maulbertsch work, the figures of the Carmelite church in Székesfehérvár.
Winterhalder also relied on his own imagination. It is to the credit of his inventiveness that he turned a biblical scene of meagre external features into a dramatic scene filling a whole vault. On the basis of the Tridentine representations of the Annunciation, he fully exploited the possibilities of the theological metaphors with a huge host of angels, an array of different symbols to enrich the iconographic arsenal of the scene. The foundation for this was Winterhalder's great theological culture and ability to invent symbols, which are obvious in other works of his as well.
Thus, in the first phase of the commisson – the decoration of the ceiling of the chancel – Winterhalder apparently acted as the talented pupil of Maulbertsch in confirmation of his fame. He eminently rehearsed what he had learnt about the elaboration of a sketch and the incorporation of pictorial panels. He dazzled his client – like so many times earlier – by creating a “real” Maulbertsch work. The next phase of the work – the decoration of the central dome – was a more taxing task confronting the painter with a new challenge.
Dans le cadre de la recatholicisation des marges orientales par l’ordre des jésuites, Anna Jávor montre la part des artistes autrichiens en particulier Michelangelo Unterberger et Johann Lucas Kracker, Franz Anton Maulbertsch et Johann Ignaz Cimbal. L’implication des évêques dans le développement de l’art de leur temps est mis en évidence.
At the time of the renovation of the Bishops’ Residence in Kroměříž after the fire in 1752, Franz Anton Maulbertsch was invited to the town and in 1759 painted the fresco in the Feudal Hall the commission of Bishop Leopold von Egkh. Two drawings by attributed Monika Dachs to the painter Josef Stern in her thesis in 2003 were until recently considered as unexecuted variations of the central scene of The Apotheosis of Leopold von Egkh. The drawing Allegory with Fides, Justitia and Pictura (Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Wien) represents a part of the wall painting, executed in 1759 on the vault of the Great Library of the Castle by Josef Stern. Another drawing, Apotheosis with Saturn, Hercules and Fama (Ratjen Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington), was after the style analysis attributed to Stern as well, but as a draft for composition of bishop's apotheosis in the Feudal Hall. This article proves Stern's authorship of both drawings. As regards the first of them, in accordance with final painting in the library the drawing's iconographic plan is revised and corrected (Doctrina, Justitia, Astronomia and Medicina). Another drawing from the Ratjen Collection is connected to the preserved written draft of the unexecuted painting in the Great Dining Room of the Castle Residence. This commission was ordered from Maulbertsch again according to the contract from 1760. The drawing adopts Maulbertsch's style and composition of Egkh's apotheosis in Feudal Hall, but it follows the motif of bishop's glorification, which was planned for the dining room. The reason of joint art work of the two painters at the dining room may be an extremely demanding scale of the commission – large area of the vault surface, that was to be covered by wall painting.
The study follows the traces of the late works by Maulbertsch commissioned by Bishop János Szily of Szombathely. The four pantings sent from Vienna in 1784 – among them a copy after Van Dyck, and others after Rubens and Jordaens respectively decorated the guest rooms of the Bishop's Palace. Only the Charity after Van Dyck can be identified by old inventories. After the death of Szily the „Mother's charity”, held to be a work by Maulbertsch, was not sold, and was disappeared from the place only after 1952. The three sketches for the frescoes of the Cathedral were purchased by Szily in 1798 from Maulbertsch's widow, they served as models for the execution of the frescoes for Josef Winderhalder the Younger between 1799–1801 and for Anton Spreng in 1807. The accompanying letter by the father-in-law Maulbertsch's, Jakob Schmutzer proves, that the Annunciation was repeated for the artist's confessor (its photo was published by K. Garas in 1971), and in the sketch for the Nativity of the Virgin (now: Prague, National Gallery) there was also Gideon, whose detail sketch is in the Budapest Museum of the Fine Arts. The altar sketches may come from the family to different ecclesiastical and public collections (Pannonhalma, Vienna, Szombathely). It seems that a renewed lecture of sources and the finding of new ones is necessary for identifying the works by Maulbertsch and among them variations and replicas by his own hand.
The Dominican church of Vasvár is dedicated to the Apotheosis of the Holy Cross. Its ground-plan and walls preserve its medieval state. The church and convent were fortified in the Ottoman times, but in the mid-16th century they fell into ruin and the monks left. After several owners the building – the residence of troops for some time – was purchased by György Széchényi, archbishop of Kalocsa and restored to the Dominican order in 1684. The monks moved back into the rebuilt convent in 1690. The reconstruction of the church and monastery lasted up to the 1750s. Several pictures of the baroque furnishing of the complex survive; these are presented in the paper.
The capture of St John of Nepomuk was the altar picture of a baroque side altar removed from church use in the early 20th century. A major cult evolved around the figure of the martyred 14th century canon of Prague in Central Europe and the Habsburg Empire in the 17–18th century. The main episodes of his life and martyrdom are repres-ented in altar pictures and graphic cycles. The direct preliminary to the Vasvár painting is Jacob Schmutzer's engraving made after Franz Anton Maulbertsch's painting. The other large altar picture shows the Sermon of St Vincent Ferrer. The size of the picture is identical with that of the St John painting – probably it was on an altar across from it. St Vincent (Valencia c. 1350 – Vannes [Brittany] 1419) was a Dominican monk who lived most of his life in Spain as one of the greatest preachers of the 15th century. The animated baroque painting includes several actors of the saint's life. He is frequently depicted in 18th century Dominican churches, e.g. in Prague, Vác, Sopron, Szombathely and Graz.
Another two rectangular paintings of the same size and equally standing format with semicircular headings survive in the monastery, both depicting the Holy Virgin. In one The Virgin hands over St Dominic's true image to a Dominican monk (the miracle of Soriano), with St Catherine of Alexandria and St Mary Magdalene as secondary figures. The other shows the Holy Virgin, patroness of Dominican and Hungarian saints. This painting combines the protective, sheltering role of the Virgin in the medieval Virgin of Mercy type with the baroque cult of Patrona Hungariae and the veneration of Dominican and Hungarian saints.
In the gable of the shrine of the Holy Virgin the martyr virgin of antiquity St Thecla is depicted with her usual attributes: a palm branch in her right hand and the cross in her left, the tamed lion being by her side. In the gable of the St Dominic altar St Catherine dei Ricci (Florence 1522 – Prato 1590) is depicted in mystic ecstasy. The figure was also tentatively identified as St Catherine of Siena (another stigmatized Dominican nun) but the appearance of the souls in Purgatory clearly refers to St Catherine dei Ricci.
The portrait of the second founder count György Széchényi (1592?–1695) was also kept at the monastery. The closest analogy to the portrait is the Széchényi picture in the Nagycenk mansion (owned by the Xantus János Museum, Győr). The sacristy furniture also included oval pictures of two Dominican female saints, St Margaret of Hungary and St Catherine of Siena, and another two of Ss Peter and Paul – the latter two lost now. The painters of the pictures datable to around 1760–70 are unknown; as for the somewhat earlier oval pictures, the name of Vince Sallay, a Dominican painter of Szombathely, may also be considered.
Special literature ascribes a distinguished role to the Pápa cycle in both the late phase of Franz Anton Maulbertsch's oeuvre and in the history of late baroque ceiling painting. Its specific features are interpreted by the authors as manifestations of unfolding neo-classicism and the Enlightenment. The St Stephen cycle is, however, a series of history pictures set into the medium of fresco painting, and accordingly, the mode of rendering adapts to the classic, centuries-old tradition of history painting and is not necessarily the outcome of a period style. The utterances of the client, bishop of Eger Károly Eszterházy and Maulbertsch are to be interpreted as reflections upon the rules of this genre. The demand for dramatic unity is already discernible in the formulation of the scheme and recurs repeatedly in their correspondence. The narrative unfolding in the ceiling paintings in Pápa can be taken for a painted tragedy of a complex plot based on Aristotle's notions of change of fate (peripeteia) and recognition (anagnorisis), the precedents of which are not to be sought in ceiling painting but much rather in the history of pictures of a classical approach produced in the early modern age. Maulbertsch's most frequently quoted words are from a letter he attached to a sketch of the ceiling painting depicting the ordination of St Stephen and his fellows deacons: He says he preserved the sanctity [heiligkeit], the quiet order [stille ordnung], the characteristic clothing [das Kenliche in der Kleidung], and the effictive meaning of the history [Wirckhsame bedeittung der Historie]. Style historical research tends to relate this passage to neo-classicism and to the categories of Ramdohr and Winckelmann. In fact, Maulbertsch was not speaking of the entire cycle here but only of the fresco of the first vault section, outlining the specificities of its rendering inhering in the peculiar theme and the place of the picture within the cycle.
Eszterházy asked the painter to adhere to the rules of costume of history painting, which meant the harmony of clothing, setting and accessories: the apostles are all clad in long-sleeved gowns, ample cloaks and have halos, while the deacons wear alb and stole. Maulbertsch did not apply the rest of the notions to reflect up the esthetic norms of a new style but used them to define the mode of representation chosen for the conveyance of the scene, and this mode was sharply different from that of the subsequent pictures. The rendering of the ceremony of ordination implies sanctity and quiet order, and the dignity and significance of this story are enhanced by the chosen artistic tools.
In the second ceiling picture of St Stephen's dispute, most of the congregation gathered in the temple receive the heard words with passionate outrage. Some of the types and formulae were taken from the conventions of the representation of the theme; the composition is closely related to the ceiling fresco in the parish church of Kirchdorf painted by Johann Baptist Enderle. Maulbertsch's absorbtion in the academic practice of the expression des passions and the classic elaboration of similar themes is clearly manifest here. The poor condition of the surface allows only some vague idea of the original pageantry of colours of the whirl of brightly dressed people and draperies in the impressive illusionistic space.
The next scene, the arrest of the saint, takes place in the same venue and is shown from the same vantage point as the previous scene of preaching. However, Maulbertsch wanted to avoid the banality of repeating the secondary figures, with which he managed to increase the expressive force of the pictorial sequence, creating a dramatic turmoil that had swept all off their places except the protagonist. In terms of classical rhetoric, the style of the three ceiling frescoes corresponds to Quintilian's second category, the sublime and vehement mode of representation (genus sublime, genus vehemens) aimed to move the recipient. The major instrument of emotional influencing is the contrast between the painterly characterization of the crowd and the protagonist, the former becoming the vehicle of pathos, the latter of ethos: the crowd is increasingly overcome by pathos, while the main character is vested by the painter with external signs of the ethos of sanctity more and more clearly: from the humbly kneeling deacon he first becomes a faith-inspired preacher and finally a chosen one initiated in the celestial secrets. The contrasting of these two qualities turn the narrative unfolding in the three frescoes tragic in the Aristotelian sense: Stephen's life on earth meets with a cruel end the monstrosity of which is conveyed by increasingly more vehement pathetic pictures to the viewer. Maulbertsch planned to include the high altar picture into this context but there is no knowing of his solution as the bishop turned down his sketch and had the high altar painted by Hubert Maurer.
The vision of heaven has a crucial role in the cycle, for the celestial sphere, the promise of salvation ensures in the plot the reversal of fortune, the auspicious denouement. The earthly events stir the recipients' emotions but the involvement of justice in afterlife calms them and thus perfect catharsis can happen. The change of fate in the third fresco is related to the moment of recognition. Through the great masters of the 16–17th centuries, pathos theory and the conception of peripeteia became the fundamental, even commonplace pictorial narrative method of history painting and Tridentine religious art of the early modern age. With the Pápa ceiling frescoes Maulbertsch gave evidence of his broad pictorial culture by choosing from among these visual panels and formulas with a keen eye and shaping them to his own liking.
Next to his signature, Viennese painter Johann Ignaz Cimbal often added a peculiar sign in his frescoes and oils. It is a combination of letters, appearing in a different form in each of the studied cases (Zalaegerszeg, Oberlaa, Zwettl, Peremarton, Tornyiszentmiklós, Nagykároly [ Carei]), which – and the poor state of the works – make the identification of the letters difficult. In most cases the sign reads VSG, so it is not the initials of the painter.
In some Cimbal works the three letters also appear with iconographic meaning. On the picture of the King Saint Stephen side altar in the parish church of Tornyiszentmiklós the letters shining in the halo around the Holy Cross were identified as VSG earlier and decoded as “Vera Sacra Crux”. However, it is more likely that this abbreviation hides the same meaning as the monograms next to Cimbal’s signatures.
Guidance to the elucidation of the monogram was provided by the ceiling fresco in the southern vestry-room of Székesfehérvár cathedral. The clearly readable VSG abbreviation appears in the corners of the triangle symbolizing the Holy Trinity, which leaves no doubt that it is in connection of the Holy Trinity. The most obvious explanation is the letters being the initials of the German words for the three divine entities, Vater, Sohn and [Heiliger] Geist.
The attribution of the picture (Maria Immaculata) on the high altar of the parish church of Sárospatak to Cimbal was suggested on the basis of this motif, here in three corners of a triangular aureole around the Ark of Covenant. The attribution is also confirmed by style critical analyses. (Analogous are Cimbal’s Immaculata figures in Zalaeregszeg, Tornyiszentmiklós and Székesfehérvár.)
The abbreviation alluding to the Holy Trinity, which is perfectly embedded in the iconographic fabric of some paintings, was also used by Cimbal independently of the theme, attached to his name. Inserting a sign referring to the Holy Trinity above his name must have been a religious gesture. Having completed a picture, the painter crossed himself, as it were, offering his work to God. He sealed his offering with the mysterious sign of God “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”. (A similar religious gesture must underlie the signature 70 of an early Cimbal work, the Saint Anne altar picture in Vienna’s Barmherzigenkirche. The abbreviation “Zimbal i. VR” is traditionally interpreted as “In veneratione” with the explanation that the painter made the picture as a votive offering.) Cimbal always created a new composition out of the three letters, so it cannot have been his aim to make a recognizable constant “trade-mark”. (For this purpose he used his name with the customary addition “invenit et pinxit”.) The linking of the three letters is not just a customary formal solution as in monograms, but it has a meaning: it symbolizes the unity of the three divine persons, just as the circle in the triangle in Székesfehérvár.
An extremely expressive iconographic solution needs special mention, applied almost to each of his depictions of the Holy Trinity in Hungary. It is the sceptre held by the three coeternal persons (hence it has extreme length). As it occurs so frequently, it cannot be part of an occasional client’s wish but much rather it is the painter’s invention. Perhaps a comprehensive examination of the entire oeuvre will discover further examples in support of the author’s hypothesis that the Holy Trinity was a particularly favourite theme of Cimbal. It was again his personal devotion that led him to use the Holy Trinity monogram.
The motivation behind commissions for religious art works in the period was first of all the client’s personal religiosity. The religious motifs of the artists can usually only be inferred from indirect data and in connection with few works. One such sign is that for the duration of painting the frescoes Franz Anton Maulbertsch joined the Scapular Confraternity of Székesfehérvár, while the group portrait on the organ loft of Sümeg permits the assumption that he took part in the devotions of the Angelic Society founded by bishop Márton Padányi Biró. His pupil Johannes Pöckel who settled in Sümeg was a member of the local Confraternity of the Cord. Unfortunately, no information to this effect is known about Cimbal.
His signature and Holy Trinity monogram testify that not only the client but also the painter offered his work to God.