Name of Monument:

De la Motte Mansion

Also known as:

De la Motte-Almássy Mansion

Location:

Noszvaj, Heves County, Hungary

Date:

1774–1178

Artists:

Designer/architect: János Povolni?, Jakab Fellner? (Jakab Fellenthali Fellner (1722–1780); painters: Johann Lucas Kracker (1719–1779), György Szikora (1741–1806), Antal Lieb (?–1846), Joseph [József] Zach? (1730–1780); stove: Károly Mágner? (2nd half of the 18th century)

Denomination / Type of monument:

Secular architecture, mansion, residence

Patron(s):

Baron Sámuel Szepessy

History:

Construction of the mansion was linked traditionally to Count Antoine de la Motte, but research has revealed that Baron Sámuel Szepessy was responsible for the two-storey mansion on the estate he had inherited from his mother's side of the family in around 1774. The construction was probably managed by János Povolni, a master-builder from Eger, but in 1779, the mansion was still recorded as an unfinished building in the register of Szepessy's estates.

Some researchers believe that János Povolni himself drew up the plans, whereas others suggest that Jakab Fellner may have been the designer. Deeply in debt, Szepessy sold the building and the Noszvaj estate to the wife of Count Antoine de la Motte, countess Anna Vécsey, in 1782. The sale and purchase agreement stipulated that only the children of Anna Vécsey, and those of her first husband Antal Almássy, could inherit the mansion.

The interior decoration was complete by the second half of the 18th century. The building remained with the Almássy family until 1869, when it was purchased by István Steinhause; later it transferred to his daughter, Berta, and her husband, Gyula Gallasy. In 1939, László, the son of Gyula Gallasy, sold the mansion to Germany-based Bálint Balla and his wife of Irish descent. Balla was once a university teacher in the United States and his wife's brother was a high-ranking army officer there. After the Second World War the mansion was defended by the Allied Control Commission and the Americans, but when their mandates expired, the mansion was nationalised and looted; at the time Hungary was governed by the communists. At first the building was owned by the local agricultural cooperative; then from 1956 it was used as a State resort hotel. The building was renovated and the frescos restored between 1958 and 1960. From 1972, the building was managed by Heves County Council and further restored and renovated. Today it functions as a holiday resort hotel and education centre.

Description:

The mansion comprises a two-storey building on the main façade, and a one-storey building on the garden side with a cour d'honneur in front of the main façade, lined with outbuildings on both sides. The main entrance is located on the ground floor of the protruding three-axed, central risalit of the main façade, crowned with a tympanum; on the first floor there is an ornamental wrought-iron balcony. The roof above the tympanum is crowned with a vase. The barrel-vaulted sala terrena – with a fresco depicting a green, leafy pergola – opens up to numerous extensions such as the barrel-vaulted rooms, chapel and a staircase with elegant double railings up to the first floor.
The ceiling fresco of the first-storey foyer with its ornamental ironwork depicts Johann Lucas Kracker's Triumph of Apollo (1778–79). In the niches, monochrome paintings of Greek-Roman mythological figures: Zeus/Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Apollo, Diana and Euterpe, employ a combination of geometric and architectural elements taken from prints by E. A. Petitot (possibly by Kracker's assistant, later brother-in-law, Joseph (József) Zach).
The frescoes in the Ceremonial (State) Room are by György Szikora from Eger, painted in the 1790s: on the ceiling, Bacchus and the Drunkenness of Noah; on the side walls, ornamental vases encircled by festoons in painted niches, divided by painted illusionary pilasters, festoons and masks above the doors (the decorations of the side walls attributed by some scholars to Joseph Zach). The Louis-Seize- (Zopf)-style cockle-stove is by Károly Magner.
Left of the Ceremonial (State) Room is the Roman Room adorned with ceiling frescoes of putti and satyrs; motifs depicting ribbons, flowers, Roman state ensigns and arms placed inside frames lined with pearls, run along the walls. A rocaille motif is seen in the stove niche, and the window embrasures are decorated with portraits of Roman emperors.
The Bird Room is accessible from here, embellished with frescoes by Antal Lieb of the 1790s: plants and exotic birds in elaborately ornamented frames on the side walls and vedutas in some of the frames reminiscent of open windows; the ceiling depicts exotic birds surrounded by rich geometric ornaments.
The previous owner removed the 18th-century paintings in the rooms to the right of the Ceremonial (State) Room. The majority of the oak doors and windows of the building are 18th century.
The main entrance wrought-iron gate is decorated with the Almássy's heraldic beast: the unicorn. The mansion is surrounded by a stone wall and a 25-acre park with exotic bushes and rare trees as well as the French Guard and Winter-Garden buildings.

View Short Description

A two-storey Late Baroque mansion with fine frescoes on the interior walls. On the staircase ceiling, a fresco by Johann Lucas Kracker represents the Triumph of Aurora, while the figures on the side walls of the staircase were probably painted by his assistant, later brother-in-law, Joseph Zach. Among the frescoes in other rooms are fine representations of exotic birds and festive Rococo motifs.

How Monument was dated:

Based on written and visual records and local research.

Selected bibliography:

Voit, P., “A noszvaji kastély” (“The Noszvaj Mansion”). Műemlékvédelem, (Monument Protection), 1966.  
Kelényi, Gy., “Castles, Manors, Villas” (“Kastélyok, kúriák, villák”), Architectural Traditions (Építészeti hagyományok), Budapest, 1974, p. 126.

Citation of this web page:

Terézia  Bardi "De la Motte Mansion" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. http://baroqueart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;hu;Mon11;27;en

Prepared by: Terézia Bardi
Copyedited by: Terézia Bardi
Translation by: Judit Harangozó, Philip Barker
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez


MWNF Working Number: HU 28