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The National Pantheon

 

"There is no other region in the country that would express the ability and intention of human representation, collective monumental need of humans so much as this unparalleled square. It is fully natural that the rite of the open-air plays has found its home among these artistic stones. We can hardly find vegetation here; the sovereign consistency, quasi the Mediterranean air of man's will and creation welcomes us that is only willing to accept the sky from nature as a scene. More or less the whole artistic past and European tradition of the city and our country become lively in front of us here: the early Gothic Saint Demetrius tower with the Romanesque relief of the Lamb of God shown on it and its carved stone curves, with its Baroque grave stone and its modern frescos, furthermore, the Baroque Serbian Orthodox Church, the Classicist Hungaria Palace, the late Eclectic Votive Church; the last movements of the unfinished symphony of the modern arcades still await for their creation."

Sándor Bálint wrote these concise and pertinent remarks about the spectacle, architectural and art historic values of the Dóm Square finished in 1930 that presumably captivate all who have ever been there. Once a visitor is there becomes for once and for all affected by the spectacle seeing the presence of the long past and modernity forged together in a brilliant architectural unity. Should one take the fill of the delight of the spaciousness and form inventiveness of the splendid square dreamt about and created by the architect Béla Rerrich, other impressions await for him stepping into the half closed, hidden and rather intimate spaces of the arcades. Visitors can find a whole series of sculptures, relieves and memorials radiating antiquity and the air of history standing on pillars, consoles and in tabernacles offering newer and newer views step by step. Here we can find the sculpture collection of the National Pantheon placed under the arcades, memorials portraying outstanding personalities of the Hungarian nation's cultural history, at the same time, sculptural works of art offering an insight into the one and a half century of Hungarian sculptural arts.

At the time of the establishment of the Pantheon in 1930, the country was only hardly a decade over the time when it had suffered from the annexation of its territories to the neighbouring countries having been dictated by the Treaty of Trianon. The grievance and the intention to revive the national pride contributed considerably to the establishment of the Pantheon. The founders assigned an important role and mission to it, primarily, in line with the spirit of that time, they wished to represent the Hungarian creative intellect, the recognition of the wider world, the national genius, ultimately the Hungarian "cultural superiority". When the construction of the square was finished, already fifty-four works of art had been set in place. The sculpture collection then had grown by twenty sculptures until 1934, then till the outbreak of the Second World War, some other ones had been added. By that time, the Pantheon showed more or less its today's appearance.

Immortalized by the sculptures of the Pantheon, the historic personalities look at us primarily from the rather glorious eras of the Hungarian past. We can find the classic figures of the Hungarian literature in great number, but the ones from the sphere of fine arts and architecture are also numbersome. Historians, representatives of the social and natural sciences complete the series who did pioneer work in the national scientific life, and who were placed under the arcades saluting to their achievements in the universal scientific world as well. Significant historic events of the city and the region have also been immortalized, and in the last few decades, the Pantheon has mainly been extended by memorials of outstanding personalities having an attachment for Szeged.

We can consider the Pantheon as a fine arts collection of examples since owing to the sculptures, relieves and memorials, we can find characteristic examples of the Hungarian portrait and memorial sculptural art. Lots of works of art are from the most noteworthy sculptors of the nineteenth and twentieth century, but we can also find a varied collection from the rather interesting trends of style and types of memorials in the twentieth century as well. Memorial sculptures in various scale, rich in portrayal ingenuity have been placed under the arcades, but being works of art commemorating personalities, it is natural that most of them are portraits, busts, portrait relieves, however, we can also find here full figure sculptures and monuments with original solutions, hard to be classified into genres.

From the perspective of the almost eight decades having past, today, the most important features of the Szeged National Pantheon can well be outlined. Its foundation can be valued as an important step in the Hungarian history of memorials. The Pantheon as a characteristic collection of works of art gives a solution to the revival of the historic past, it presents the Hungarian cultural history in an essential form. Its role of representation is equally important since it symbolizes the rank and intellectual significance of the city. This collection of sculptures rich in sculptural values and including various types of memorials is also unique as an example collection of fine arts. Since the establishment of the Pantheon, Szeged has been considered as the city of sculptures.

Similarly to the endeavours of other nations of Europe, as having developed in the nineteenth century, the Szeged National Pantheon was called into life by the national pride and identity as well as the sense of being 'Magyar'. In the collection of memorials, primarily we should see a historic compilation of examples, the particular Eastern European expression of the national ideal, the cultural self-identity coloured with national consciousness, pride and exemplification. Additionally, it is worth paying attention to the sculptural, artistic, thematic and emblematic curiosities of it. Nothing alike can be found anywhere else in the country either in number or in spectacle, and there are only a few similar collections in Europe.

The sculpture and the monument with their appearance, with their artistic effects and symbols can only be silent legates of what they represent. This book aims at introducing the Szeged National Pantheon with its memorials, the history of its foundation and development as well as its artistic values collecting the most important information in connection.

Dóm tér, a déli árkádok látképe

 

 

   
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