Showing posts with label Museum of Fine Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Museum of Fine Arts. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Catalogues of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Two new collection catalogues of the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) in Budapest have been published recently. The catalogues treat some of the most important medieval and early Renaissance paintings in Hungary: one volume is dedicated to Early Netherlandish paintings, while the other deals with Sienese paintings.

Early Netherlandish Paintings in Budapest



The long-awaited volume by Susan Urbach, titled Early Netherlandish Paintings in Budapest, was published by Harvey Miller/Brepols. The volume includes extensive catalogue entries on 49 works dating from c. 1460 to c. 1540, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. This is the first volume of a series on Flemish paintings in Budapest, and covers about a third of the entire collection from the 15th century through to the 17th. The volume includes the results of a detailed technical analysis carried out on the panels. 


S. Urbach: Early Netherlandish Painting in Budapest. Old Masters' Gallery Catalogues, Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest. Volume I (Distinguished Contributions to the Study of the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands). With contributions by Ágota Varga and András Fáy. V+271 p., 115 b/w ill. + 174 colour ill., 210 x 297 mm, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-909400-09-2


Below is one of the key works featured in the book (and on the cover): the Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard David. You can find additional paintings in the collection database of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Gerard David: Adoration of the Shepherds, c. 1485. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Sienese Paintings in Hungary


The other book is the Corpus of Sienese Paintings in Hungary 1420-1510, written by Dóra Sallay. This also is part of series planned for three volumes: future volumes will cover the periods 1250-1420 and 1510-1650. The catalogue, published by Centro Di of Florence, includes painting not only from the Museum of Fine Arts, but also from the Christian Museum in Esztergom, Hungary's second most important collection of early paintings. The richly illustrated catalogue presents extensive and updated biographies of the artists, and the entries provide significant new findings on questions of attribution, dating and iconography, original context and function, the circumstances of the commission, the reconstruction of now dismembered structures, and various other issues dealing with the relationship between the paintings and the art and culture of their time. The catalogue of paintings is preceded by an essay on the history of their collecting, conservation and previous research.


Dóra Sallay: Corpus of Sienese Paintings in Hungary, 1420-1510. 368 pp. 260 ill. b/n, col. 33. 2015. ISBN: 9788870385106

On the cover of the book, you can see Giovanni di Paolo's St. Ansanus Baptizes the People of Siena, from the Christian Museum in Esztergom. For another illustration, I selected a work from the Museum of Fine Arts: Sassetta's St. Thomas Aquinas in Prayer, which was a predella picture of his Arte della Lana altarpiece, made for the Sienese guild and dedicated to the Eucharist (1423-25).

Sassetta: St. Thomas Aquinas in Prayer, 1423-25.  Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts

Friday, February 20, 2015

Museum of Fine Arts closes for three years

Photo of the Romanesque Hall at the Museum of Fine Art © MTI
The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest will be closed for the renovation of the building from 16 February 2015 until the end of 2017. During this period a highlight-selection from the Museum’s collection will be on view in the Hungarian National Gallery (in Buda Castle). The Museum will reopen in 2018 with brand new exhibitions and new spaces. The most important part of this renovation process will be the restortion of the so-called Romanesque Hall of the Museum, which had been closed since 1945. Since then, the space has been used as a storage space for the fantastic collection of plaster casts of medieval and renaissance sculpture, accumulated in the early years of the Museum's history. 


The Romanesque Hall at the time of the opening of the building (1906)


The plasters casts will be restored and put on display in a newly created museum space at the 19th century fortress of Komárom (see this article, with visualizations of the plans). Some other will be moved to the newly created National Museum Restoration and Storage Center, which is being developed on the site of a hospital, located behind the museum - see the plans in this article.


The state of the Romanesque Hall before the war


In addition, several other spaces of the museum will be restored, and new underground areas will be created for the storage of artworks and for a new space for large temporary exhibition. The entire heating and air-conditioning system of the museum will be redone, as well. This Hungarian language article in Népszabadság has more details. The renovation of the museum and the other developments mentioned above are all part of the controversial Liget Budapest project, which is aimed to create several new museum in City Park (read more on it). During the years of closure, the Museum of Fine Arts will continue to organize exhibitions in the Hungarian National Gallery, which was joined to it a few years ago. Highlights from the permanent collection will also be shown there.

See also this video about the Romanesque Hall from Szépművészeti Múzeum on Vimeo.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

In memoriam Miklós Mojzer

Miklós Mojzer in 2006 
Miklós Mojzer, the former director of the Museum of Fine Arts, passed away last weekend in the 83rd year of life (1931-2014).
Miklós Mojzer was an outstanding scholar of medieval and Baroque art. Born in 1931, he had studied in Budapest, and began his career at the Christian Museum in Esztergom. In 1957, he started working in the Museum of Fine Arts, in the collection of Old Hungarian Art, in the department headed by Dénes Radocsay. In 1974, when the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque works of Hungarian Art - the Old Hungarian Collection - was trasferred to the Hungarian National Gallery, he went with the collection, and soon became head of the department (1977-1989). In this period, he supervised the creation of the most important exhibitions of old Hungarian art, including the magnificent exhibition of late medieval altarpieces in the former throne room of the Hungarian royal palace, home of the National Gallery. In 1989, Miklós Mojzer became the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he served three terms, until his retirement in 2004. He was a true museum expert, familiar with technical details of historic paintings, exhibition organization and publications, and above all, always a true gentleman.

As a researcher of medieval art, Miklós Mojzer mainly researched and published on late medieval panel painting. His bibliography was compiled for the 2011/2 volume of Művészettörténeti Értesítő, which was a Festschrift published for his 80th birthday (another bibliography was compiled at Museum of Fine Arts). An earlier Festschrift, published by the National Gallery for his 60th birthday, is available online in the Hungarian Digital Museum Library. A subject he had dealt with most recently was the painter known as Master MS, creator of a highly important altarpiece at Selmecbánya (Banská Štiavnica / Schemnitz, SK) at the beginning of the 16th century. This was a subject which occupied him over and over for decades.

To get to know more about Master MS, you can also have a look at this overview on the Fine Arts in Hungary website, but the best place to start is the bilingual exhibition catalogue published by the National Gallery in 2008. Miklós Mojzer naturally wrote the introductory study to this catalogue, but the results of his research concerning the identity of the painter were only published later, in a two-part article (the second part of which is available online). In this complex study he calls attention to the painter known with various names, but generally as Marten Swarcz, who had arrived to Cracow in 1477 along with Veit Stoss in order to work on the main altar of the Church of the Virgin Mary. Mojzer proposed that this painter can be identified with Master MS, and he must have been in Selmecbánya by 1506 to work on the altarpiece, from which today seven scattered panels are known (see the Visitation at the Hungarian National Gallery in high resolution). His research opened up new avenues in the study of this outstanding late Gothic master. 

Miklós Mojzer will be buried in Esztergom, on September 5, 2014. May he rest in peace. 

Master MS (Marten Swarcz): Resurrection, 1506. Esztergom, Christian Museum 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

News from Hungarian Museums

Medieval and Renaissance tapestries on view at Esztergom


Calvary
Tournai, late 15th century
Esztergom, Christian Museum 

An exhibition of tapestries has been on view at the Christian Museum in Esztergom since May.  The Museum holds a significant collection of tapestries, and together with the co-organizer - the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest - they have put on display a good selection of early tapestries.The present exhibition entitled ‘Historical and Contemporary Tapestries in Hungary’ is presents the past and present of European woven tapestry, illuminating the connections also. From the perspective of a medievalists, the first section of the exhibition is the most interesting, which is titled ‘Flemish Tapestries with Biblical and Mythological Themes from the Museum of Applied Arts and the Christian Museum’. Here one of the genre’s most significant traditions – the Flemish – is represented by Oudenaarde and Tournai tapestries kept at the Christian Museum and by the 18th-century Brussels tapestry ‘Mercury Hands Over the Infant Bacchus to the Nymphs’, a work preserved at the Museum of Applied Arts. It is through this work that the rest of the exhibition - showing contemporary works - is connected to historic tapestries, via the "Web of Europe" project. The exhibition can be visited until the end of August, and is accompanied by a catalogue.


Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest purchases an early Renaissance carving



The blog of Hungarian museum journal MúzeumCafé reported that the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest had purchased an important French early Renaissance carving at an auction last week (June 5). The stone relief was once part of the famed collection of Rudolf Bedő, and was auctioned at Kieselbach Gallery and Auction House. Another medieval sculpture from the collection - a Burgundian Madonna - was also offered for sale. This news comes just a few months after the long overdue re-opening of the permanent exhibition of the Old Sculpture Collection of the museum (see my report from December) - the piece is clearly a welcome addition to this important collection.







I will list a few smaller exhibitions here as well - with link to Hungarian-language reports

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Raphael drawings in Budapest #raphaelhasan

Raphael: Head of an Angel.
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 
Today is the birthday of Raphael, who was born in 1483. Only 37 years later, it was also on this day that he died and was laid to rest in the Pantheon). In the art history blogging community, this day is an occassion for remembering one of the pioneers of this field: Hasan Niyazi, who passed away unexpectedly last year. Hasan was mainly known as the author of the excellent art history blog Three Pipe Problem, but he was also dedicated to the study and research of the work of Raphael. Among his legacy in this field, I would like to mention his Open Raphael Project, which can hopefully be carried on somehow. Despite the fact that he was not an art historian by training, Hasan brought new insights to the field, and his clear reasoning based on evidence, logic and a background in the sciences led him to new results. Hasan was also tireless in connecting the authors of art history blogs to each other, and was a source of constant inspiration to others. He posted interviews on his blog, and often invited guest bloggers to contribute a post. He was always willing to help with comments, links or scanned articles sent via email. I will remain grateful to him for encouraging my efforts when I started this blog a few years ago. As a commemoration, art history bloggers are posting blog entries today on topics related to his interests - all of which are linked from his blog

I am sure Hasan Niyazi would have been interested in an exhibition which closed last week at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Budapest. Titled Triump of Perfection - Raphael, the exhibition presented Renaissance drawings and prints from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.

Raphael: Study of the Figure of Venus. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest preserves six drawings by Raphael: an early study for his first Perugian altarpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin, a study for Saint Jerome from his stay in Florence, the compositional sketch for the Disputa in the Vatican Palace, a powerful Angel Head for the Sala di Costantino, a unique preliminary drawing for the renowned Massacre of the Innocents engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi, and the silverpoint Venus, a superb masterpiece of the High Renaissance. The drawings are accessible in the collection database of the Museum, and I provided direct links to the records. 


Esterházy Madonna, detail

The exhibition also included works by the followers of Raphael, as well as copies made after his drawings, to illustrate the great influence of the master in the early 16th century. The list of works on display is accessible from the website of the museum, as is the first chapter of the catalogue, written by Zoltán Kárpáti and Eszter Seres.

Another famed work, which - being unfinished - provides an insight into the working process of Raphael, was also on display: the Esterházy Madonna. For this occassion an online presentation was made about the condition and restoration of the Esterházy Madonna. This treatment was necessitated by the infamous theft of the panel in 1983, along with six other masterpieces. The online presentation of this restoration and the technical examinations is something that our late friend Hasan Niyazi would have surely appreciated. I dedicate this brief post to his memory.




Update: As pointed out in a comment below by Zoltán Kárpáti, you can study high resolution photos and technical data of the Budapest Raphael drawings at the following link: www.raphael.printsanddrawings.hu

Raphael: Esterházy Madonna. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 




Sunday, January 05, 2014

Medieval news from the end of 2013

There were quite a lot of things I wanted to report on at the end of 2013. I hope to come back to these subject individually in the near future - for now, I can only give a brief listing of these news.

Medieval palace chapel reopened at Esztergom

After a restoration process of about 13 years, the palace chapel of Esztergom chapel finally reopened to visitors. During this period, the chapel was completely inaccessible, as heavy scaffolding was erected inside. The chapel, which was built at the end of the 12th century, is the most important Early Gothic building in Hungary. It was decorated with a wonderful cycle of frescoes, painted in the 1330s - the best example of Italianate frescoes in Hungary. During the Turkish wars, the chapel, along with the royal (later archepiscopal) palace next to it fell to ruin, and was only uncovered between 1934-38. The restoration of the Renaissance frescoes in the adjoining room still goes on, and will probably be completed in 2015.
The website of the Castle Museum of Esztergom (a branch of the Hungarian National Museum) provides very basic information about visits to the chapel. The press kit, which can be downloaded from the website, provides a few photos of the frescoes in their restored state. The photo used here is from the press kit. A full architectural and photogrammetrical survey of the palace chapel and adjoining spaces - which was carried out in connection of the restoration - is available on the website of the company who made the survey. Reports on the reopening of the chapel were made by Hungarian press, see here and here, for example. For more photos, go to Archeologia - Altum Castrum Magazin.

Exhibition of the Sculpture Collection reopened at the Museum of Fine Arts

Horse and rider attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
The Collection of European Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has been inaccessible for a long time, ever since the old permanent exhibition was closed some 25 years. During this period, the Gothic wooden sculptures were on display for a few years starting from 2000, and there were several temporary exhibitions organized from this material (as the Verrocchio exhibition, organized by the author of this blog). More recently, several important statues in the collection were (and remain) incorporated into the galleries of Old Master paintings. The Museum website reports on the reopening of the sculpture exhibition in detail:
"The sculptures of the Museum of Fine Arts, housed in the deposits for the past 25 years, are now presented in newly renovated rooms on the second floor of the museum. The Department of Sculpture collection includes nearly 650 European sculptures covering six centuries of artistic creation from the Middle Ages to 18th-century Classicism. The exhibition encompasses over 100 artworks, from various styles and periods, including German Late-Gothic, Italian Renaissance, and Austrian Baroque. Among the exhibited masterpieces are German sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider’s (circa 1460-1531) wooden sculpture, referred to as Madonna and Child, Italian architect and sculptor Jacopo Sansovino’s (1486−1570) unique wax sculpture entitled Madonna and Child, and the extraordinary Austrian Baroque sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s (1736−1783) Character Heads. In addition to displaying the most celebrated sculptures, the museum’s exhibition also provides insights into the secrets and special production techniques of the workshops. Throughout the centuries, sculptors have experimented with several types of material, including wood, stone, ivory, terracotta, and various alloys of metal. Furthermore, over time artists developed numerous methods for decorating and painting their sculptures and reliefs. Conservators have applied the original methods and traditional materials and techniques to make samples, thus highlighting the important details of the displayed sculptures and enabling the viewer to observe and follow the various stages of the creative process." You can continue reading on the website of the museum.

Other news

Interesting things are happening elsewhere in the region as well. The Gallery of Medieval Art finally reopened at the National Museum in Warsaw. The exhibition of the Master of the Liechtenstein Castle remains open until February 23, at the Belvedere in Vienna. Finally, the exhibition on the Florentine connections of Hungarian Renaissance art is closing this weekend in Florence.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Collection Databases of Hungarian Art Museums

2012 represented a sort of breakthrough for Hungarian art museums in the process of putting their collections online. When I wrote about the medieval holdings of Budapest museums about two years ago, there was not much to report on in this respect. The situation is now a lot better, and keeps improving - you can now find an increasing number of medieval art objects online. I will give a brief overview of each of these  databases.

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Maso di Banco: Coronation of the Virgin
Florence, 1335-1340  
The Museum of Fine Arts launched two separate databases this year: one is a general collection database, which provides basic inventory data on thousands of artworks. Integrated into the newly rewamped museum website, the database is available in English as well - although the translation seems to have been made with a translation software, and contains a lot of peculiarities and inaccuracies. The quality of the images varies a great deal: in some departments (for example Sculpture) all the archival pictures seem to have made it into the database, while some objects are illustrated with just one image, or no image at all. You can browse the objects based on the collections and also by period, so it is fairly easy to get to the medieval and Renaissance objects. 



Florentine master: Siren in a medallion 
The Museum also launched another, more scholarly database: an online catalogue of Italian and French prints before 1620. The catalogue, containing 4.604 objects, is the first complete publication of a section from the rich collection of 100.000 prints preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts. The catalogue was edited by Eszter Seres and Zoltán Kárpáti, and provides detailed catalogue records of each print, as well as new, zoomable images. This material does not seem to be integrated into the general collection database mentioned above - so if you are after prints, you have to come to this specialized website. There are a few dozen 15th century prints in the collection as well.





Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Book of Hours for Lodovico Gonzaga.
Florence, 1469-1478
The Museum of Applied Arts also launched its collection database, which is continuously being filled up with images and records, and currently contains over 2000 objects. There are plenty of medieval objects in this rich and varied collection of decorative arts, some of which have already appeared in the database. At this point, the database is only available in Hungarian, but an English language version is currently in preparation. The interface is very easy to use, and there are various ways to browse: by collection or with virtual tours, which present the material arranged according to various topics. Medium-size images can be downloaded for personal use after registration.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Honoring Miklós Mojzer

It is a long-standing tradition in Hungary's major art museums to celebrate on St. Nicholas's day: it is the name day of Miklós Mojzer, the doyen of Hungarian museologists, retired director of the Museum of Fine Arts. Yesterday a special celebration was held in his honor at the Hungarian National Gallery - the 80 year old Mojzer was honored by a special issue of Hungary's prestigious art history journal, Művészettörténeti Értesítő. Miklós Mojzer worked in all of Hungary's museum with major holdings of Old Masters: he started his career at the Christian Museum of Esztergom, and then worked at the Old Hungarian collection of the Museum of Fine Arts. When in 1974, this collection joined the rest of the Hungarian National Gallery in its new building - the former royal palace in Buda castle - Mojzer went with the collection, and became its head from 1977 to 1989. In this period this collection - encompassing works of  Hungarian and Central European art from the 11th century to the Late Baroque - became one of the most significant such ensembles of the region. To get a glimpse of the relevant artwork, you can browse the website of the museum - the first four groups on this page of collection highlights belong to the Old Hungarian Collection. In this period, Mojzer was also the editor of Művészettörténeti Értesítő, the journal of the Association of Hungarian Archaeology and Art History. 

From 1989 until 2004, Miklós Mojzer was the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, leading this institution into the 21st century by starting the reconstruction and underground expansion of the museum, and organizing a series of highly important exhibitions. The collections of the museum were also greatly expanded during his tenure. Miklós Mojzer remained active after his retirement, publishing a number of important articles - including ones dedicated to his lifelong research-interest, Master MS. His findings will be the topic of another blog post - it is enough to say now that Mojzer proposed a solution to this enigmatic master of late Gothic paintings, whose chief works are at the Christian Museum and at the Hungarian National Gallery (the latter providing the sole illustration to today's post). A selection of his publications is listed in the Kubikat catalogue.

The new issue of Művészettörténeti Értesítő contains studies from the general field of research of Mojzer: studies on late medieval altarpieces, on Hungarian medieval painting and sculpture, on Renaissance and Baroque painting and similar subjects. Edited by Anna Jávor and Árpád Mikó, the studies in this special issue were written by the best Hungarian researchers in these fields, many of whom had worked together with Miklós Mojzer for many years. I would like to wish him many more productive years and a long life!

More info here or here



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Exhibition of Medieval Art in Cologne

Last week I had a chance to see the exhibition "Glanz und Grösse des Mittelalters" at the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne (Splendour and Glory of the Middle Ages). The new building of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum provides a spacious and modern exhibition space right next door to the historic building of the Schnütgen (the former St. Cecilia church) for such exhibitions (this is in fact the first such show). The rich collection of the Schnütgen Museum provides a great overview of medieval art in Cologne and the Rhineland - the aim of the present exhibition was to gather other highlights stemming from Cologne but kept in various collections worldwide. The resulting exhibition and the accompanying catalogue does provide a great overview of medieval sculpture and decorative arts in Cologne, and includes a number of important paintings and illuminated manuscripts as well (although naturally it cannot match the complete overview of medieval painting in Cologne provided on the lower floor of the nearby Wallraf-Richartz Museum).

Over a decade ago, a select number of medieval objects from the Schnütgen toured the US at the exhibition Fragmented Devotion (at the McMullen Museum of Art of Boston College). Now objects from American collections in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, Chicago and Los Angeles are shown alongside of loans from various European museums. The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest lent two spectacular late Gothic statues of the Virgin Mary and St John, which are now joined with the crucified Christ, once again forming the original group once standing at the abbey church of Grosskönigsdorf. As I was not able to take photos in the exhibition, I am illustrating this with a photo I found on Wikipedia:

Museum Schnütgen - Glanz und Größe des Mittelalters-5138
Crucifixion group from Grosskönigsdorf by Master Tilman, 1480/90

The life-size figures were carved by master Tilman - who has a sizeable oeuvre in the area - around 1480/90. It was interesting to see the group united - the sculptures in Budapest preserved much of their polychromy, while the Christ figure still in Grosskönigsdorf has been stripped of its paint layer. The two saints appeared on the art market after the dissolution of the monastery, and were purchased from a Munich art dealer in 1916. Why and how the central figure remained in its original place, is not known. Here is a link to the object description on the Museum of Fine Arts website.