Plenus Sapientia: Lippay György Esztergomi Érsek Pozsonyi Kertjének Látványosságai

Ecsedy, Anna (2013) Plenus Sapientia: Lippay György Esztergomi Érsek Pozsonyi Kertjének Látványosságai. Művészettörténeti Értesítő, 62 (2). pp. 171-232. ISSN 0027-5247


Download (25MB) | Preview


Abstract Archbishop of Esztergom György Lippay's summer residence and garden in Pozsony (Bratislava) were represented on a series of engravings published in 1663. According to the dedication text on the title page, the series originally consisted of twenty sheets only four of which survive, along with two copies of the title page (see Appendix I. 1–5). The prints were made after the drawings by Johann Jacob Khün, the archbishop's court artist. Khün's mark is discernable on a recently recovered copy of the title page (a later imprint of the original plate). The engravings were executed by Mauritius Lang of Augsburg. Descriptions of the missing sheets are included in Notitia Hungariae Novae Geographico Historica by Mátyás Bél. The idea behind redecorating the garden and commissioning the engravings is conveyed by the motto on the title page: “Haec dicit Dominus Deus: Tu signaculum similitudinis, plenus sapientiâ et perfectus decore in delitiis paradisi Dei fuisti.” (Ez 28:12–19). The biblical allusion points to a chain of ideas typical mainly of encyclopedic works representing the versatility of the created universe. Man is like God in his wisdom; his works, made from the wonders of created nature, are the results of repeated and ongoing creation themselves, reflecting the fullness and beauty of Paradise. The garden's most detailed contemporary description is given by Johann Sebastian Müller, ambassador of Saxe-Weimar, who visited the garden in 1660. Contemporary visitors as well as Mátyás Bél praise the multitude of scientific mechanisms in the garden: machines and automatons producing motion and musical effects, giochi d'acqua — type phenomena, and catoptrical constructions. The Mount Parnassus in the south-west corner of the garden was inspired by an engraving in Les raisons des forces mouvantes by Salomon de Caus (1615), showing a paraphrased version of the artificial hill in the garden of the Villa Medici in Pratolino. According to Müller, Lippay's Parnassus probably hid a water organ, a symbol of status from the 1560s well into the mid-17th century, especially favoured by the Papal court and the college of cardinals. Its most celebrated specimen was attached to the Parnassus in the water theatre of Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati. This construction was populated by figurines of Apollo and the Musae, imitating the sound and movement of a whole orchestra, just like Lippay's Parnassus. Manual hydraulic organs and constructions imitating the sound of wind instruments and birdsong are known from Heron's works. Their modern automatic versions (brought up to date according to the Pratolino model) featured in De Caus's treatises and in the derivative works of Jesuit scientists Athanasius Kircher (Musurgia universalis, 1650) and Caspar Schott (Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, 1657). Such constructions were hidden in two niches in the ground floor arcades (“inferior galleria”) of Lippay's summer residence. One niche displayed figurines of singing sirens surrounding a bagpipe player, the other artificial ruins equipped with a hydromechanical machine imitating birdsong. When Kircher dedicated the chapter on Egyptians' mechanical and architectural knowledge in his Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1653) to Lippay, he referred to the machinae hydraulicae of the garden as most representative of his patron's expertise in mathematics. Another area of mathematicae mixtae was represented in Lippay's garden by spectacular phenomena caused by catoptrical and dioptrical mechanisms, belonging to the category of magia catoptrica. The man behind these was Zachias Traber SJ (1611–1679), professor of mathematics at the University of Nagyszombat (Trnava) and later at Vienna. As an expert mainly on optics, Traber spent years in Lippay's court playing a definitive role in redecorating and mechanizing the garden. He also took part in planning and executing the hydraulic constructions, such as the waterworks of the grotto which were shooting a jet of water 50 feet up into the air. His treatise Nervus opticus, based on the writings of Kircher and Schott, was published in Vienna in 1675. It contains detailed and illustrated descriptions of Traber's catoptrical constructions planned for Lippay (see Appendix II). In the upper niches in the walls of the grotto, a variety of “miraculous metamorphoses” (mirae metamorphoses Catoptricae) were located. These could be brought about by mirrors joined to each other at different angles, effecting distorted reflections of the figures of “woodland gods” standing in the niches or those of the spectators, making them appear as monsters. Their construction was probably motivated by a chapter of Kircher's Ars magna lucis et umbrae, which gives a description of the same metamorphoses created by the so-called multividium in the Museum Kircherianum. Traber also designed a theatrum catoptricum for Lippay. Descriptions of the early modern version of this contraption are provided by Kircher, Schott, and Traber after Giovanni Battista della Porta. The famous theatrum catoptricum in the Stanza del Centauro of the Villa Borghese was similar to the one in Lippay's garden. Kircher's celebrated theatrum polydicticum was presented in the Roman College museum. The hermitage in Lippay's garden had a peephole cave, equipped with a magnifying lense, showing scenes from the lives of holy anchorites. This was the work of Gervasius Mattmüller (c. 1593–1668), the famous Viennese court optician. Traber knew Mattmüller personally, several sources testify to their professional cooperation. Traber probably contributed to acquiring and installing the construction. In his own treatise, he presents a different version using the magnifying effect of concave mirrors. Lippay's speculum polygonum planoconcavum, made from 16 mirrors, probably came from Mattmüller's workshop as well. This mirror, according to Müller's account, multiplied the light of candles placed in front of it and probably served to illuminate parts of the garden or the upper rooms of the building at night. Traber demonstrates the Aristotelian explanation of the rainbow relying on arguments based on his experiences in Lippay's garden, with an illustration of one of two fountains, that were erected in the the archbishop's garden between 1660–63, probably with the contribution of Traber. The two fountains are represented on separate plates in the series of engravings depicting the garden. The engravings present the most spectacular effect produced by the fountains: the rainbow appearing on water-dust. The rainbow here is more than a beautiful phenomenon evoking the traditional symbolism associated with its appearance. It is a scientific experiment set up to prove a scientific statement. It is meant to herald the wisdom and scientific erudition of the garden's owner. It also points to a deep knowledge of natura pictrix by presenting the artificial recreation of the only aerial phenomenon which can be recreated at all. As a sort of catoptrical showroom, Lippay's garden was a unique one in Central Europe. Its decoration was derived from the displays in the appropriate department of the Museum Kircherianum. The new guide to interpreting the Museum's catoptric instruments was provided by the works of Kircher and Schott. Catoptric compositions, executed through reliance on classical authors, were no longer to be regarded as supernatural miracles. They were constructions producing artificial versions of natural effects. Through these constructions, God's infinite wisdom and the perfection of creation were made manifest, together with the intellectual talent of their engineer or owner. Divine wisdom and human intellect were put on the same plane. No matter how simple or complex they might be, all catoptric phenomena in the archbishop's garden tend towards this ideological conclusion.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: N Fine Arts / képzőművészet > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR / vizuális művészet általában
N Fine Arts / képzőművészet > NX Arts in general / művészetek általában > NX4 Art history and criticism / művészettörténet, műkritika
Depositing User: xAnikó xZsoldos
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 14:12
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2017 14:12

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item