Lost works of art

Works of art in Buda Castle

Buda Castle (Hungarian: Budai Vár, Turkish: Budin Kalesi) is the historical castle of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, Hungary. The castle has a long and troubled history with many phases of building, destruction and rebuilding.

The Royal Palace and its gardens have been decorated with works of art since their foundation in the 14th century. Only written sources speak about the most important medieval works, but detailed pictorial and written information exists about the 19th century artistic decoration of the palace which was mainly created by the most important Hungarian artists of the turn-of-century. Many of the statues survived the destruction during the siege of Budapest in 1944 and they were restored later. On the other hand important works-of-art were destroyed during the controversial reconstruction of the castle during the 1950 and 1960s.

Sculptural monuments

  • Matthias Fountain (Mátyás-kút) - The spectacular fountain is decorating the western forecourt of the palace. It shows a group of hunters lead by King Matthias Corvinus together with hounds, a killed deer, Galeotto Marzio with a hawk and Szép Ilonka with a doe. This group of people stands between fallen rocks with water running down into a basin. The fountain was made by sculptor Alajos Stróbl. The dead dear was modelled upon a majestic stag killed by poachers in the forest, owned by Stróbl in 1896. The damaged sculpture was restored after the war. Nowadays it is probably the most photographed object in the palace.
  • Monument of Prince Eugene of Savoy - The equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy stands on the Danube terrace, in a prominent position, high above Budapest. The Neo-Baroque statue was made by sculptor József Róna for the town of Zenta but the town could not afford its price. The monument was bought in 1900 as a temporary solution until the planned equestrian statue of King Franz Joseph was completed. This never happened so Prince Eugen remained on his plinth. This plinth is decorated by two bronze reliefs, showing the capture of the earth-works in Zenta and the decisive cavalry charge in the famous battle in 1697.
  • Horse Wrangler - The statue of the Hortobágy horse wrangler taming a wild horse originally stood in front of the Riding School in the former Újvilág terrace. It is the work of György Vastagh from 1901. The statue was displayed in the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900). The damaged statue was removed during the 1960s but it was later restored and erected in the western forecourt of the palace in 1983, next to the Matthias Fountain.
  • Turulbird - The mythological Turul, high above the Danube, was made by Gyula Donáth in 1905. The plinth and the ornate Neo-Baroque rail (Gyula Jungfer's work) was seriously damaged during the siege of Buda but they were restored in 1981 together with the broken coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of Hungary on the plinth.
  • Fishing Children - The Fountain of the Fishing Children on the Danube terrace is the work of sculptor Károly Senyey from 1912. It depicts two children grappling with a huge fish. The fine workmanship of the fishing net is remarkable. The fountain was removed in 1955 and re-erected on the Rákóczi Square in Pest but brought back to its original place in 1976. It was restored in 2001.
  • Csongor and Tünde - The two statues depicting Csongor and Tünde, literary figures from Mihály Vörösmarty's drama, originally decorated the Habsburg Steps in front of the place. They are the works of sculptor Miklós Ligeti from 1903. The steps were demolished after the war but the statues were saved and re-erected in 1976 on top of two simple concrete plinths near their original places.
  • Lions - There are two pairs of lions guarding the monumental gate leading into Lions Court. The four statues are the works of János Fadrusz from 1901. The animals standing on the outer side of the gate are menacing while the inner ones are calm and dignified. One lion was broken in two pieces during the war but it was recreated in the 1950s.
  • War and Peace - The monumental allegorical bronze statues of the War and the Peace are standing on the sides of the entrance to the Budapest History Museum. They are the works of Károly Senyey. Both War and Peace are represented by angels, one with a trumpet, the other with an olive branch. Under the angel of the Peace there is a soldier who is coming back to his family while under the angel of War there is a dead Ottoman soldier and ancient Hungarian warriors.
  • There are sepulchral monuments in the Palatinal Crypt decorated with the statues of György Zala, Alajos Stróbl and Károly Senyey.

Lost works of art

  • Hungaria - The monumental sculpture group decorated the main (northern) façade of the palace, facing Szent György Square. On the top of the attic, crowning the façade, there stood the female figure of Hungaria, the allegorical representation of Hungary. Two semi-nude figures were sitting on her sides, one male and one female, representing Industry and Commerce. The group was made by sculptor Gyula Jankovits in 1905. The group was destroyed together with the whole northern façade during the 1950s.
  • Pediment Group - The pediment above the Habsburg Steps was decorated with an allegorical group of Károly Senyey representing the Apotheosis of the Dual Monarchy. It was destroyed during the 1950s together with the great coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of Hungary which originally crowned the façade. The present-day pediment is plain without any sculptural decoration.
  • Apotheosis of the Habsburg Dynasty - The ceiling of the Habsburg Room was decorated with a huge fresco, representing the apotheosis of the Habsburg Dynasty. It was the last important work of Károly Lotz, painted in 1903, one year before his death. The artist was already seriously ill when he worked on the fresco. The "Apotheosis" followed the traditions of Baroque court painting and the work was praized by contemporary critics. The fresco survived the war unscathed but it was destroyed in the 1950s.

See also

References

  • László Prohászka: Szoborhistóriák, Bp, 2004, pp. 145-150.
  • (Hungarian, about Lotz's fresco)

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