2018 / 10 / 9

The Activities of the Straub Brothers in Hungary – field research

Researchers from the Straub project, Ingeborg Schemper and Julia Strobl (Vienna, Austria), Valentina Pavlič and Saša Dolinšek (Slovenia), and Martina Ožanić and Martina Wolff Zubović (Croatia), visited the parish churches in Szécsisziget and Egervar and the Franciscan church in Nagykanisza on 25 September. The objective of the field research was to get acquainted with the work of the Straub brothers in Hungary, which belonged to the same cultural entity in the eighteenth century, and to query existing attributions, mostly taken from already existing literature. Although the high altar in the Szécsisziget parish church was attributed to the workshop of Philipp Jakob Straub during a joint discussion, stylistic analysis revealed that the sculptures show only echoes of his design features, suggesting further archival research.

In the Franciscan church in Nagykanisza, Valentina Pavlič gave a presentation to the project participants about the works of Joseph Straub in that church, sculptures of St John of Nepomuk and St. Florian, and about the side altars. On the high altar of the Egervar parish church, in a monumental tabernacle, there are copies of the sculptures of St Roch and St Sebastian attributed to Philipp Jakob Straub, whose originals are in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. During the stylistic analysis of the altar as a whole, there was an interesting discussion about the provenance of the sculptures whose quality of workmanship surpasses that of the altar and "does not fit in" with its iconographic program. The pastor, who was most attentive, informed us about the church’s history, donors and later renovations.

Looking for further information about the sculptures led us to Budapest, to the Museum of Fine Arts, which we visited next day. We were greeted by the collection curator Zsuzsanna Boda and Anna Jávor, an expert on the Baroque art of Hungary. Our colleagues were most understanding and showed us the museum despite the ongoing work on its renovation. The original sculptures were specially exhibited for the needs of the working group, followed by a discussion of their provenance, the time of their placement on the high altar, the exact date of their arrival in the museum and their stylistic features. It was concluded that further research into archival sources is necessary, especially the archives of the noble family that had commissioned the altar.

The field study ended in a meeting of the working group at which the conclusions were summarised and following events planned.

Martina Wolff Zubović