“HEAVENLY AFFAIRS” THE EXHIBITION OF SÜMEG EPISCOPAL PALACE.
We had waited a long time for the gates of the Episcopal Palace, guarded by a pair of stone Atlas figures, to open, allowing us to enter the bishops of Veszprém’s “residence never seen as beautiful as it presently is“.
It has become a truly special place as a result of three years of restoration. The exhibition tells the story of the commissioner of the construction of the Rococo palace, Bishop Márton Padányi Biró.
In Western Europe, the middle of the 18th century marks the beginning of a new era. Following the Turkish devastation, Hungary’s fate is approaching a historic turning point. In addition to kings and queens, the bishop played an important role on this stage — and perhaps he could have played an even more important one. However, the circumstances — certain mundane affairs — made it impossible for Bishop Márton to fulfil his intended historical mission. When he returned to Sümeg, however, he built something lasting: the palace and the beautiful parish church, which people from all over the world admire.
He commissioned a brilliant artist to paint the church’s walls. Franz Anton Maulbertsch’s work is one-of-a-kind: the church space was transformed from a fresco to a massive stage. We can see how this illusion came to be and what it meant to people in the 18th century by visiting the exhibition. We can experience this as the destroyed murals in one of the rooms are reborn and come to life in front of our eyes.
We can learn about science in the 18th century and how they imagined the universe with Hell and Heaven, in the interactive library.
The frescoes, which arose from a chance encounter between the bishop and the Baroque painter Franz Anton Maulbertsch, offer an opportunity to delve into the secrets of Baroque and Rococo painting, learn about the painter’s creative process, and engage in art historical research.
The Episcopal Palace in Sümeg and its inhabitants are a true Baroque tale from the great era of Hungary’s rebirth, which the organisers present with an exciting, modern exhibition that engages all of our senses.
Visitors can find their way around the palace using a smartphone app in which a resident of the palace reveals the secrets of the old building.
The exhibition presents the age through a variety of illusory and illustrative tools, bringing the world of hundreds of years ago closer to the visitor. The various eras of the palace’s construction, for example, are depicted in a projected hologram, and its destroyed frescoes have been reconstructed and even brought to life with the help of video mapping. With the help of wall-mounted images, more specifically visual games and optical tricks, the exhibition also evokes everyday life in Sümeg and the visual culture of the time.
Following Franz Anton Maulbertsch’s “wall of thought”, we can see how the parish church’s frescoes were created in accordance with the bishop’s guidelines, how the 18th-century painter composed with colours and lights, watch in cartoons how the parish church was painted and find out what the difference between the Baroque and the Rococo is.
The paintings that have been brought to life enrich the exhibition by providing not only visual but also audible information and curiosities. The noble members of the mysterious Society of Angels, founded by the bishop and painted by Maulbertsch in the parish church, “introduce themselves” through animation and an interactive play, while contemporary rulers, Queen Maria Theresa, and her opponent, Frederick the Great, discuss Márton Biró’s activities in a loud debate. We can listen to the fictitious quarrel between Italian stuccoists and Viennese painters from 1757, as well as to the bishop’s passionate speech at the coronation of Maria Theresa.