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Name of Monument:

Holy Trinity Column

Location:

Sopron, Győr-Moson-Sopron County, Hungary

Contact DetailsHoly Trinity Column
Fő tér
9400 Sopron
Municipality of Sopron (Responsible Institution)

Date:

1701

Artists:

Unknown master, Szervác Leitner?

Denomination / Type of monument:

Ecclesiastical outdoor monument

Patron(s):

Count Lipót Kollonich Archbishop of Esztergom Cardinal and Primate; Countess Katalin Thököly (1655–1701); Count János Jakab Löwenburg [János Jakab Lovorovszky until 1683] (?–1732); Ealdorman of Békés County: 1699–1732

History:

Baroque Holy Trinity columns are sculptures representing the Holy Trinity placed on free-standing columns in public spaces, and are usually erected out of a sentiment of plight and gratitude after great epidemics. The richly sculpted Holy Trinity sculpture in Sopron was erected following a plague epidemic that raged there at the end of the 17th century. In April 1695, after the epidemic had come to an end, Count Lipót Kollonich Archbishop of Esztergom Cardinal and Primate, suggested to the city assembly that a Holy Trinity sculpture be erected out of plight and gratitude that the town had survived, and requested donations from the citizens to realise it. The assembly of a Protestant majority responded positively to the suggestion, and works probably began that year, although there is no written evidence to confirm that assumption. The sculpture is mentioned in 1697 in the protocols of the town council when a carpenter complained about the sculptor, Szervác Leitner, who (as the context suggests) took part in carrying the sculpture into the town.

Debate is still ongoing as to who was responsible for the design and sculpting of the monument. Since Kollonich himself presented the design, some researchers are of the opinion that Leitner was not sufficiently proficient as an artist to design and sculpt the monument, so Kollonich had the design and the sculpture made in Vienna or Kismarton (Eisenstadt), close to the Esterházy court. Guild legislation did not allow sculptors to act as stonemasons.

Stylistic and iconographic examinations distinguish between different masters and sessions on the sculpture (the qualities of female saint figures are different; the representation of St. John of Nepomuk is very early). Based on inscriptions and local chronicles the column was erected in 1701. The site was already an important one in Sopron in the 18th century.

The inscription on the sculpture mentions Countess Katalin Thököly (the sister of Imre Thököly) and her third husband, Count János Jakab Löwenburg as patrons, and a council protocol reveals that Löwenburg established a foundation for its maintenance as well. But when the sculpture needed repairing and people turned to the foundation for finance it was no longer in existence. The city, however, felt duty bound to renovate the monument and in 1796 and 1797, at the city's expense, the sculptor János Mynch restored it.

The monument was renovated on several occasions subsequently.

Description:

An outdoor free-standing spiral column on a triple pedestal in the main square of Sopron, it represents Hungary's first outdoor-column spiral. The bottom level of the pedestal is curved with bevelled edges; its middle part is a curved-sided square with prisms at the edges; the top is decorated with offsets, serving as a pedestal for marginal figures.
At the front on the second level of the pedestal, the double Löwenburg-Thököly coat of arms inscription in Hungarian reads: “This votive sculpture was erected by Count János Jakab Löwenburg and his wife in 1701, it was restored by the public of Sopron Free Royal City in 1797, 1847, 1883 and 1911”. Standing on the ledges of the mid-level pedestal-columns are ancillary figures of the Thököly-Löwenburg families' patron saints: St. James, St. Stephen King of Hungary and, at the corners, St. John of Nepomuk and St. Anthony of Padua. At each of the four corners are four figures of female saints (Barbara, Regina, Anne and Catherine – also the Thököly-Löwenburg families' patron saints; the Immaculata is at the bottom of the column. The patrons at the front are Count János Jakab Löwenburg half-kneeling and Countess Katalin Thököly kneeling on a pillow; both have their arms raised and look upwards towards the Holy Trinity at the top. Between them is an inscription in Latin with the chronosticon of the year 1701: “VnI trInoqVe Deo patrI fILIo spIrItVI sanCto eX Voto posVIMVs sopronll.” (“We the [citizens] of Sopron erected [it] in gratitude to the One God Holy Trinity, to the Father, to the Son to the Holy Spirit.”) There are further inscriptions on the other sides of the pedestal about the patrons.
It is interesting that no other representation of Count Löwenburg remains from this era as far as we know.
Above the mid-level pedestal there is a spiral column decorated with garlands and putti – its shape and garland decoration evoking the baldachin columns in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome – but, finally, the column is crowned with the Holy Trinity above the Corinthian column capital (the Father on the right and the Son on the left; above them the dove of the Holy Spirit among golden rays).

View Short Description

The Holy Trinity column in Sopron is one of Hungary’s most beautiful Baroque monuments with its pedestal decorated with figures of saints and patrons. Erected to commemorate the end of the plague epidemic, it was built between 1697 and 1701, out of a sentiment of plight and gratitude.

How Monument was dated:

Based on written and visual sources, stylistic and iconographic examination.

Selected bibliography:

Thirring, G., Sopron, Budapest, 1925.
Heimler, K., Topography of Sopron (Sopron topográfiája), Sopron, 1936.
Csatkai, E., Sopron, Budapest, 1954.

Citation of this web page:

Terézia  Bardi "Holy Trinity Column" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;hu;Mon11;30;en

Prepared by: Terézia BardiTerézia Bardi

SURNAME: Bardi
NAME: Terézia Anna

AFFILIATION: National Trust of Monuments for Hungary

TITLE: Art Historian, Vice Director for Research at The National Trust of
Monuments for Hungary; MWNF DBA local co-ordinator (Hungary), author
and copy-editor

CV:
Terézia Bardi, Vice Director for Research at the National Trust of Monuments for Hungary since 2004, was awarded her MA in History and History of Art at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. After a period of fellowships mainly in Italy, Terézia gained her PhD from the Faculty of Art History at the same university for her thesis Presentation and Representation – the European Reception of the Liberation of Buda in 1686: Feast and Public Opinion. Her main fields of research are 17th-and18th-century Baroque and Rococo: the spectacles, festival decorations and associated iconography – including theatre productions of the period – and interior decoration of historic houses. Since 1988, she has edited a number of art historical books that include some on Oriental art and architecture. She is MWNF DBA’s local (Hungarian) co-ordinator, author and copy-editor.

Copyedited by: Terézia BardiTerézia Bardi

SURNAME: Bardi
NAME: Terézia Anna

AFFILIATION: National Trust of Monuments for Hungary

TITLE: Art Historian, Vice Director for Research at The National Trust of
Monuments for Hungary; MWNF DBA local co-ordinator (Hungary), author
and copy-editor

CV:
Terézia Bardi, Vice Director for Research at the National Trust of Monuments for Hungary since 2004, was awarded her MA in History and History of Art at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. After a period of fellowships mainly in Italy, Terézia gained her PhD from the Faculty of Art History at the same university for her thesis Presentation and Representation – the European Reception of the Liberation of Buda in 1686: Feast and Public Opinion. Her main fields of research are 17th-and18th-century Baroque and Rococo: the spectacles, festival decorations and associated iconography – including theatre productions of the period – and interior decoration of historic houses. Since 1988, she has edited a number of art historical books that include some on Oriental art and architecture. She is MWNF DBA’s local (Hungarian) co-ordinator, author and copy-editor.

Translation by: Emese Polyák, László Domoszlai, Terézia Bardi (translation of Latin inscriptions) Terézia Bardi (translation of Latin inscriptions)

SURNAME: Bardi
NAME: Terézia Anna

AFFILIATION: National Trust of Monuments for Hungary

TITLE: Art Historian, Vice Director for Research at The National Trust of
Monuments for Hungary; MWNF DBA local co-ordinator (Hungary), author
and copy-editor

CV:
Terézia Bardi, Vice Director for Research at the National Trust of Monuments for Hungary since 2004, was awarded her MA in History and History of Art at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. After a period of fellowships mainly in Italy, Terézia gained her PhD from the Faculty of Art History at the same university for her thesis Presentation and Representation – the European Reception of the Liberation of Buda in 1686: Feast and Public Opinion. Her main fields of research are 17th-and18th-century Baroque and Rococo: the spectacles, festival decorations and associated iconography – including theatre productions of the period – and interior decoration of historic houses. Since 1988, she has edited a number of art historical books that include some on Oriental art and architecture. She is MWNF DBA’s local (Hungarian) co-ordinator, author and copy-editor.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: HU 34

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