Maria Gravida, fragment of a panel from Németújvár (today Güssing, Austria)
Old Hungarian Collection
The largest museum collection of winged altars, panel paintings and wooden sculptures from the Kingdom of Hungary is held by the Hungarian National Gallery. Our exhibition presents objects which originated between 1300 and 1500 – paying attention to chronology and stylistic development – bearing in mind the original places where they were made and used. As an introduction, we evoke the atmosphere of a church interior that experienced natural growth in line with changing needs and opportunities, while to close, visitors can see an ensemble of early winged altars.
Gothic panel paintings, wooden sculptures and winged altars are leftovers from the furniture used in medieval churches. Objects utilised in the Western Liturgy were made to present and convey a religious message. Most of the panel paintings belonged to winged altars, while personal religious contemplation and private worship outside ecclesiastic ceremonies were served by smaller altars and self-standing devotional paintings that were also capable of containing relics. The wooden sculptures in our collection are also mostly from winged altars, and their forms, their iconographies and their surface treatments all depended on the position they originally occupied as part of the altar.