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Ars et Virtus: Croatia-Hungary. 800 Years of Common Heritage

Matej Grgić, Exhibition Ars et Virtus, Croatia- Hungary, press materials, 2020, Zagreb, Croatia.

Museums And Exhibitions

Ars et Virtus: Croatia-Hungary. 800 Years of Common Heritage

On 24th September 2020 the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery in Zagreb, Croatia, opened an exhibition named Ars et Virtus. Croatia-Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage. The exhibition is a general display of the common heritage of Croatia and Hungary. In fact, it shows all the important cultural and historical events through art pieces, photos, and documents.

Croatian-Hungarian Historic Paintings

Croatian-Hungarian common history begins with the coronation of Coloman in 1102. Thus was the Hungarian-Croatian personal union established. Later, this historical event became a popular source of inspiration for painters.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Oton Iveković, The Kiss of Peace of Croatian Magnates to King Coloman in 1102, 1906, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Oton Iveković, The Kiss of Peace of Croatian Magnates to King Coloman in 1102, 1906, Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb, Croatia. Wikipedia.

Besides famous historical events, famous noblemen and scenes from their lives were also a popular source of inspiration. Consequently, there are some very notable masterpieces to see from painters like Oton Iveković and Vlaho Bukovac.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Oton Iveković, Farewell of Peter Zrínyi/Zrinksi from his Wife Catherine, 1901, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Oton Iveković, Farewell of Peter Zrínyi/Zrinksi from his Wife Catherine, 1901, Croatian History Museum, Zagreb, Croatia. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.

Additionally, religious paintings have an important place at the exhibition. They describe the middle ages and renaissance of Croatian-Hungarian common heritage.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Gianfrancesco de Tolmezzo, Crucifixion, c. 1505, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Gianfrancesco de Tolmezzo, Crucifixion, c. 1505, Diocesan Museum, Zagreb, Croatia. Medieval Hungary.

Reliquary

Items from church treasuries chronicle the main part of the Croatian-Hungarian middle ages and Renaissance. Apart from religious paintings, the exhibition holds a lot of reliquaries. A reliquary is a container for relics. In fact, reliquaries were very popular votive gifts to the church at that time.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Local work, Reliquary of St Ladislas the King's Hand, 1690, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Local work, Reliquary of St Ladislas the King’s Hand, 1690, Treasury of the Zagreb Cathedral, Zagreb, Croatia. Author’s photograph.

Probably the most outstanding reliquary in the exhibition is the reliquary bust of King Saint Stephen. It was made in Rome, commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Barberini. It contains a piece of the frontal bone of St. Stephen.

Francesco Spagna, Reliquary bust of King Saint Stephen, 1635. Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Francesco Spagna, Reliquary bust of King Saint Stephen, 1635, Cathedral Treasury, Zagreb, Croatia. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.

St. Stephen and St. Ladislas were important rulers. They contributed to the spread of Christianity in medieval Europe. Therefore, they are the motives of a lot of religious Croatian-Hungarian art.

Church treasures

The Croatian-Hungarian exhibition contains many church props, like bishops’ staffs, liturgical books, and vessels. Finally, one of the more remarkable pieces is the Antependium from the Benedictine church in Zadar. It was made around 1380. It was originally located on the altar of the Virgin Mary in the southern side-aisle of St. Chrysogonus church in Zadar.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Antependium from the Benedictine church in Zadar. Figures of the Virgin Mary, Saint Benedict and Saint Chryisogonus
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Antependium from the Benedictine church in Zadar. Figures of the Virgin Mary, Saint Benedict and Saint Chryisogonus, ca 1360, Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, Hungary. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.

Furthermore, another art piece that takes up a lot of space is the Chest of Saint Simeon. It contains the relics of Saint Simeon the God Receiver. It was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth of Bosnia, wife of Hungarian-Croatian King Louis of Hungary. The reliefs on the chest show the Saint’s miracles as well as the events related to his relics.

Goldsmith Francis from Milan, Chest of Saint Simeon, 1377-1380, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Goldsmith Francis from Milan, Chest of Saint Simeon, 1377-1380, Church of St Simeon, Zadar, Croatia. Miroslav Kraljevic.

The Sculptures

The exhibition gathers a lot of art made in stone and as reliefs.

Nicola di Giovanni of Florence, Triptych of Our Lady with Child, St Jerome, and St Ladislas, 1470, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Nicola di Giovanni of Florence, Triptych of Our Lady with Child, St Jerome, and St Ladislas, 1470, Lapidarium of St Lawrence’s Church, Trogir, Croatia. Author’s photograph.

Owing to the proximity of Italy, the renaissance movement quickly penetrated Hungarian and Croatian art and thinking. Giovanni Dalmata played an important role in connecting the Hungarian and Croatian Renaissance.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Giovanni Dalmata, Putto with the Coat-of-Arms of the Cippico family, 1480, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Giovanni Dalmata, Putto with the Coat-of-Arms of the Cippico family, 1480, Museum of the City of Trogir, Trogir, Croatia. Wikimedia Commons.

The Croatian-Hungarian noblemen

The lengthy common history created a long list of noble families that ruled these areas. Hence, they left behind many wealthy decorated estates and enriched the national culture.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Matej Grgić, Exhibition "Ars et Virtus, Croatia- Hungary", 2020, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Vlaho Bukovac, Portrait of Dragutin (Károly) Khuen-Héderváry, 1896, Croatian History Museum, Zagreb, Croatia. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.

The exhibition represents them with a brief description of their origin, portraits, and photos of estates. Also, all the special stories and fun facts are mentioned there.

Mailáth Manor, Donji Miholjac, 1903, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Mailáth Manor, Donji Miholjac, 1903, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.

The Zrínyis

The Zrínyis were probably the most famous noble family that existed in these areas during Hungarian-Croatian common history. They participated in military operations, literary creations, and in the political life of their land.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Craftsman unknown, Helmet and saberof Nicholas Zrínyi, Austria
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Craftsman unknown, Helmet and saber of Nicholas Zrínyi, mid. 16th century, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Vienna, Austria. Author’s photograph.

Consequently, the family produced four Bans of Croatia. One of them was Nicholas IV Zrínyi. He was a Croatian-Hungarian nobleman and general. He heroically died in the Battle of Sziget (1566) stopping the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s advance towards Vienna. Therefore, he became revered throughout Europe.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Painter B. M. after Johann Peter Krafft, Zrínyi's Charge from Szigeth, 1856, Croatia
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Painter B. M. after Johann Peter Krafft, Zrínyi’s Charge from Sziget, 1856, Croatian History Museum, Zagreb, Croatia. Author’s photograph.

For more art of Croatian-Hungary common heritage, you can visit the exhibition in Zagreb (open until November 22th) or the one in Budapest (December 16th 2020 – March 15th 2021), in the Hungarian National Museum. If none of these are an option, there is a great virtual exhibition.

Croatia - Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Elias Zorer, Stag-shaped centerpiece, date unknown, Hungary
Croatia – Hungary, 800 Years of Common Heritage: Elias Zorer, Stag-shaped centerpiece, date unknown, Hungarian National Museum, The Modern Goldsmith Collection, Budapest, Hungary. Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.

Keep on virtual travelling and discovering Croatian art with:

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