Gyula Pasteiner (1846–1924), professor of art history at Budapest University retired in 1916. The minister of religion and public education issued an advertisement of the vacancy calling for applications (deadline: 15 August 1917). Six persons replied to the call until the deadline: László Éber, Tibor Gerevich, Antal Hekler, Béla Lázár, Simon Meller and Zoltán Felvinczi Takács. In the paper I present the history of the vacancy on the basis of documents preserved at the Archive of Eötvös Loránd University. The university committee in charge of the appointment of the new professor asked Pasteiner to make a preliminary evaluation of the applications. In his lengthy review presented on 10 May 1918 (Appendix I “Pasteiner’s report on the applications”) he did not find any of the applicants fit for the chair. Pasteiner’s negative view was rooted partly in the antagonism between university and museum practice also deepened by him. All the applicants were namely specialists in museology or historic monument protection. As Pasteiner put it, “The Germans have long realized the difference between the two disciplines and translated this recognition into practice. Not even in exceptional cases do practitioners of museum science lay claim to a department chair, and conversely, a university department lecturer would not give up his job for museum activity.”
The committee of the faculty of humanities did not accept Pasteiner’s opinion, and supported the classical archeologist Antal Hekler’s or Hekler’s and art historian and curator of the Museum of Fine Arts Simon Meller’s candidacy “aequo loco”. When the post was announced, Hekler, a one-time pupil of Adolf Furtwängler was privatdocent of archeology at Budapest University, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts and director of the Hungarian Scientific Institute in Constantinople among other engagements. Meller’s best-known publication was the study Die Reiterdarstellungen Leonardos und die Budapester Bronzestatuette (Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen, 1916). In support of Meller some European colleagues also put pen to paper, such as Wilhelm von Bode, Adolf Goldschmidt and Max Dvořak. Eventually Hekler was appointed to the post, presumably upon political pressure. Pasteiner submitted a protest to the minister (Appendix II: “Pasteiner’s dissenting opinion”). Meller’s supporters also protested, without success.
The legendary dual institutional structure of art historical education at Budapest University began with the appointment of Hekler in October 1918. The second professor, his rival Tibor Gerevich, was not appointed before 1924.
In 1913 László Éber wrote a paper about the rood screen of the baroque cathedral of Vác. He was the first who revealed that sixteen pieces from the renaissance-style carved stone elements of the rood screen were made in the late medieval period. the stone material of the pieces is marl of the Buda region. there were other stone carvings masoned in the cathedral: four dividing pillars of this balustrade, other two with Jagellonian signs from red marble and two tables with the coat of arms of Miklós Báthori (bishop of Vác, 1474–1506). The balustrade elements can be seen in the baroque cathedral thought to be in strong connections with some dividing pillars from Buda castle. there were two ideas about the dating of the Vác balustrade: either they were made during the reign of King Matthias corvinus or after his death during the Jagellonian era. In 1992 árpád Mikó discovered a barrel on the backside of one pillar, which is one of the emblems of King Matthias. there is another important question: what was the original finding place of the pillars? Éber wrote, that it is plausible that Miklós Báthori was the order of the balustrade and it was stood in the medieval cathedral of Vác, which was destroyed during the Ottoman era. is it possible that they came from the site, which now laid under and around the baroque Franciscan church and monastery in Vác? I examined the written sources from the 18–19th centuries and it turned out, that there is no information about it.
On the other hand, there are several other renaissance fragments from Vác, most of them were also made of marl of the Buda region. the fragments kept by the local museum came into light by archaeological excavations between 1912 and 2019, on the site where the medieval episcopate laid. From the first time, researchers (based on Éber) wrote that the findings stand close to the ones in the cathedral’s rood screen. Most of them are well known – we could say – because tibor Koppány published every known piece in 1994. He wrote about a few other balustrade fragments too, but his descriptions are very short, and we can see drawings of only ca. one-third of all pieces. so i decided to see the original fragments and found that those small pieces kept by the museum don’t come from that balustrade can be seen today in the cathedral.
The most important difference is the shaping of the baluster’s foot rings. they are divided: there is a vertical section and after that, the ring widens into a curved form. Furthermore, the image field of the dividing pillars framed in a more complex mode. On the image fields probably tapes, garlands, trophies were carved, but there is not any intact one, only very small pieces, which came to light in every corner of the site. so the balustrade’s original place couldn’t be determined certainly. nevertheless, because of the fine surfaces of the carvings, i think the balustrade stood inside, maybe in the medieval cathedral, perhaps in the chapel of saint nicolaus where Miklós Báthori was buried.
Among the early renaissance-style pieces known from the medieval Hungarian Kingdom, there are a few analogies. First of all, we can see the very same solution on the foot rings of the Jagellonian era dividing pillars from Hungarian red marble in Vác. they belong to a group of red marble carvings: the other elements of this group can be found in Buda and esztergom. Furthermore, from the marl of the Buda region stone material i know only one other example where the baluster foot rings are similar: the gallery of the castle chapel in siklós. so i think we can say certainly that the „new” balustrade fragments from Vác were made during the Jagellonian era.
. Paris , 1970 . ANTONIO DONDI : Notizie storiche ed artistiche del duomo di Modena. coll’elenco dei codici capitolari in appendice , Modena , 1896 . LÁSZLÓÉBER : Árpádkori művészet , A Műbarát 2 . 1922 , 73 – 84 . ROBERT FAVREAU : Mentem