Baroque Ceiling Painting in Hungary II

János Jernyei Kiss (ed.), Barokk freskófestészet Magyarországon II. kötet – Baranya, Somogy, Tolna és Zala megye [Baroque Ceiling Painting in Hungary, Vol. II. – Baranya, Somogy, Tolna and Zala Counties], Budapest 2020, 560 pp., ISBN: 9786150092843

Following the first volume of the corpus of Baroque ceiling painting in Hungary, the present handbook, published in 2020, focuses on fifty-one murals located in the Southern Transdanubian counties of present-day Hungary. A part of the four-volume corpus edited by János Jernyei Kiss and published by the Hungarian Academy of Arts in collaboration with the Hungarian Museum of Architecture and Monument Protection Documentation Centre, this lavishly illustrated large-format book presents new research by fifteen authors on several aspects of monumental mural decoration during the 18th century in Hungary.

A historically determined feature of Baroque mural painting in the Southern Transdanubian region is the lack of grand churches, cathedrals and castles. Instead, this region has a plethora of smaller parish churches, built after the Turkish wars, that were still decorated in the manner of major Baroque fresco-cycles, but in a more humble way. For example, the frescoes of the Sümeg parish church, painted by Franz Anton Maulbertsch in 1757–58, greatly influenced local artists and some even accurately copied these compositions in smaller churches (Balatonkeresztúr, Szécsisziget).

Several of the important high-Baroque painters of Hungary were active also in this region during the mid- and late-18th century, including Stephan Dorffmaister and his son, who continued to work in late baroque style even during the first decade of the 19th century. They were among the most sought after painters of their times and the style of their workshops defined the interior of many parish churches in the south-western counties of Hungary. Some of the most peculiar works of Stephan Dorffmaister are those depicting scenes of Hungarian history, in the church of Zalakomár, and on the dome of the abandoned Ottoman mosque of Szigetvár. Franz Xaver Bucher, a German-born painter mostly active in the diocese of Veszprém, was also commissioned to decorate several parish churches in the Southern Transdanubian area during the 1780s and ‘90s.

One of the most outstanding monuments of this region is the decoration of the parish church of Zalaegerszeg from 1769 by the Silesian painter, Johann Ignaz Cimbal. His work is among the largest contiguous fresco decorations in Hungary. Some of the fresco cycles cannot be attributed to any of the known Baroque artists but still hold significant artistic value. For example, the chapel near the bishop’s palace in Mecseknádasd was decorated by an unknown master in 1770 with an illusionistic dome based on Antonio Galli Bibiena’s work in Bratislava.

The subsequent volume of Baroque Ceiling Painting in Hungary, forthcoming in 2021, will cover two of the richest counties in Western Hungary, Győr-Moson-Sopron and Vas. The fourth volume will focus on Central and Eastern Hungary. For a review of the first volume, see https://bcpce.hypotheses.org/2058

Volume II could be ordered here: https://www.mmakiado.hu/kiadvanyok/barokk-freskofesteszet-magyarorszagon-2 

[AK]

 


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