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Involvement of the Munich Company Franz Hanfstaengl in the Strossmayer Gallery in the 1920s

Ivana Gržina ; Strossmayerova galerija starih majstora HAZU, Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 414 Kb


str. 52-65

preuzimanja: 157



The text presents the circumstances and the course of the involvement of the renowned Munich company Franz Hanfstaengl in photographing artworks from the Strossmayer Gallery in the 1920s. Insight into relevant, hitherto unpublished archival documents enabled the reconstruction of the chronology of events and determined their causal relationships. In turn, a comparative analysis of original photographic material, old sales catalogues of this German company and other specialized photographers, as well as old museum catalogues of the Old Masters Gallery in Budapest deepened the insights into the role of individual participants in this project, whose motivation and specific contributions are examined in the context of professional interests or business strategies. As the research focuses on the points of contact between the art historical and photographic practices of that time, the text equally covers the methods and the historiography of the mentioned discipline, as well as of the history of photography. In the summer of 1925, as part of the plan for a complete modernisation of the Strossmayer Gallery, Gabriel Térey (1864–1927)—a Hungarian art historian and long-time director of the Old Masters Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest—was hired as a consultant. Térey's task was to study the holdings thoroughly, reassess the existing attributions of artworks and possibly make some new proposals, and reorganize the permanent exhibition by making a new selection of exhibits and proposing a redesign of the exhibition space and modernisation of the exhibition display. For this purpose, he stayed in Zagreb on two occasions: for ten days in September of 1925 and 1926, while the planned third working visit was thwarted by his death in the spring of 1927.The Hungarian expert noted that the Zagreb Gallery is undeservedly unknown outside of Croatia and suggested increasing promotional efforts that would include representation in academic journals, as well as producing photographs of the best and most interesting artworks, bilingual postcards and albums with reproductions of selected artworks. He advocated hiring a first-class specialist company from Vienna or Munich, and the decision eventually fell on the print-publishing house Franz Hanfstaengl, with which Térey had worked successfully for decades. This photographic campaign thus represented another form of intensive professionalization of various Gallery activities in the interwar period. This text explains how just this act of hiring a photography company with such a reputation, whose sales catalogues of photographs of artwork from numerous public and private collections were a regular research resource for art historians, promised a kind of promotion for the Strossmayer Gallery. Further on in the text, mostly through the analysis of the correspondence between the parties in the venture, the course of cooperation with the Munich company is presented in detail, from the initial contacts in mid-1926, the campaign itself in late autumn of the same year, to the subsequent commissions during the following two years. This shows the professionalism and meticulousness with which this company approached their contracts. Following Térey's initial idea, the Gallery also reproduced the photographs of artworks from its holdings in the form of postcards, as well as in a photographic album of a promotional and souvenir character. In the context of Térey's contacts with foreign experts on the topic of doing additional research of the Zagreb paintings, as well as the role played by Hanfstaengl's photographs, the text points to the need to view these photographs as material objects with their own biographies, as well as to the importance of doing a comparative analysis of thus understood photographic material and other published and unpublished sources in completing a picture of the changes in the attribution of certain artworks from the Gallery's holdings.

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