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

3 comments:

  1. Do you know why so many beautiful (and presumably expensive) early Netherlandish paintings ended up in Budapest? What was the special appeal to Hungarians that made Netherlandish paintings more attractive or applicable than other nations' works?

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