The paper analyses the baroque ceiling paintings of the Pauline pilgrimage church in Šaštín (Slovakia), signed in 1757 by Jean-Joseph Chamant, scene designer and theatre architect at the Vienna court and protégé of Emperor Franz I Stefan of Lorraine. In 1736 Franz Stefan purchased manors in the neighbourhood, thus became patron of the pilgrimage church in Šaštín, built in 1736–62. The Emperor and Queen Maria Theresa frequently visited the pilgrimage shrine while sojourning in their chateau in Holiè and contributed with significant donations to the construction of the church, and then to the decoration of the church interior: the high altar was commissioned by the Queen in 1762 and designed by the court architect Nikolaus Pacassi. According to archival sources Chamant's fee was paid by the Paulines, consequently the frescos can not be qualified as explicit court commission. Chamant was the primary contractor of the work, yet, being a scene designer, his contribution to the fresco cycle must have been limited to the painted architecture, including a trompe-l'oeil dome over the nave. The figurative compositions of the fresco cycle were carried out presumably by Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer, professor of the Vienna Art Academy, who received several court commissions in the 1750s. The fresco cycle consists of allegorical scenes referring to Christ's redeeming death, in correlation with the miraculous statue, a Pietà, placed on the high altar.
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.
The Podmaniczky Mansion in Aszód was built in 1727– 1730 by János Podmaniczky (1691–1743). In 1767–1772 the building was extended by his sons, János (1716–1786) and Sándor (1723–1786), who resided with their families in the eastern and western wing of the mansion.
In 1776 Sándor Podmaniczky commissioned Johann Lucas Kracker and his assistant, Joseph Zach, specialised in trompe l’oeil architectural painting to fresco the ceremonial hall of the mansion, located at the southern end of the western wing. The ceiling painting features in the centre the allegorical female figure, a Justifying Faith (fides iustificans), holding the Holy Script with the inscription Sola scriptura. She is surrounded by allegories of different virtues, such as Divine Mercy (Caritas Dei), Humility, Generosity, Hospitality, Temperance, Self-restraint and Right Judgement. On the right of the ceiling the female figure of Wisdom is to be seen striking down the Vices. In the four corners of the ceiling further four virtue-allegories are located: Honesty, Fame, Diligence and the Love of Virtues.
The moralizing programme of the vivid ceiling painting is accompanied by grisaille, statue- and relief-like representations on the sidewalls. The illusionistic statues of Seneca and Alexander the Great represent two classical virtues: wisdom and heroic pugnacity. On the longer walls of the hall four illusionistic busts of four Classical deities (Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto and Ceres) represent the four elements. Above them relief-like mythological scenes are to be seen: two episodes from the youth of Bacchus, the story of Apollo and Daphne and finally the contest of Apollo and Pan.
The complex, moralizing iconographic programme conveyed by the wall and ceiling paintings can be interpreted in the context of the Lutheran ethics, as the com missioner himself was of Lutheran confession. Lutheran teachings on ethics have fundamentally differed from the scholastic doctrine on theological and cardinal virtues and have defined a different canon of virtues. This Lutheran virtue’s canon is reflected in the iconography of the ceiling painting to a large extent. The Olympic deities and mythological scenes featuring on the side walls symbolise the material world, as opposed with the spiritual sphere represented by the virtue-allegories on the ceiling. The overall message of the paintings is that living a pious, virtuous life, conducted by faith, avoiding vice and exercising self-restraint leads the soul to heaven, in harmony with the Lutheran doctrine of justification.
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.
Brucher , Günter : Die barocke Deckenmalerei in der Steiermark , Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Institutes der Universität Graz , 8, 1973; Lipoglavšek, Marjana: Baročno stropno slikarstvo na Slovenskem (Summary: BaroqueCeilingPainting in Slovenia