Sigismund’s Moment in Art History Cover Image

Sigismund’s Moment in Art History
Sigismund’s Moment in Art History

Author(s): Ernő Marosi
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts
Published by: Society of the Hungarian Quarterly

Summary/Abstract: Sigismundus rex et imperator: Art and Culture in the Age of Sigismund of Luxembourg, 1387–1437. Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts, 18 March–18 June, 2006 and Luxembourg, Musée national d’histoire et d’art, 13 July–15 October, 2006. The historical personage invoked by the title of this exhibition, and in its attendant publications, would never have inscribed himself as rex et imperator, and anyone who did so would have been certain to find themselves out of his favour. (This in spite of the fact that, in line with the provisions of the German Golden Bull issued by his father in 1356, he would have been able to speak Latin, German, Italian and Czech.) The curators of the Charles IV exhibition (Prague: The Crown of Bohemia 1347–1437), held partly in conjunction with this exhibition, first in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, then in Prague, were nearer to the truth when they plumped for the title of “emperor by the grace of God”. Neither designation, however, includes the listing—ever-present in medieval documents and royal seals—of all the countries over which the person in question ruled as prince, king or emperor. The appearance is given that one of the two (the father) ruled over Bohemia, the other over Hungary; in both cases, however, they did so merely as kings. As emperors, both were the crowned heads of “the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”, and prior to that bore the title of German King. Both of them, in the 19th century (when Czechs and Hungarians were incorporated in the Habsburgs’ Austrian empire), became “our” emperor in both Bohemia and Hungary. The “rex et imperator” is completely the reverse order to that demanded by medieval protocol and this reversal is, to Hungarians, evidence that it is the Latinization of a familiar line in the historical ballad “Szibinyáni Jank” that the poet János Arany wrote in 1855 ("Sigismund, king and emperor…”).[...]

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: 182
  • Page Range: 6-20
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: English