The oldest dated roof structure in Transylvania and some 14th-century frescoes at Magyarvista

A push meeting was focused to the church of Magyarvista (Viștea, Romania) at the László Teleki Basis, to announce the end result of latest investigations within the medieval church of the village. The subsequent overview is published on the basis of the push launch. The Calvinist church of Magyarvista in Cluj County is one particular of the most well known medieval monuments in Transylvania and the location of Kalotaszeg. The stone-built, solitary-nave, square-apsed setting up with a Romanesque western doorway was in all probability crafted at the conclusion of the 13th century. The to start with documentary point out of the village dates back to 1229, and in 1291 it grew to become the assets of the Transylvanian bishopric as a royal donation. The church is richly adorned with painted woodwork, the fantastic options of which are the converted late Gothic priest’s chair, the coffered ceiling earlier mentioned the nave supported by a beam and a wooden column, the pews, the doorways of the south and west entrances, the altar, the pulpit, and the pulpit crown. An 18th-century belfry rises next to the building, the oldest bell in it relationship from 1487, from the time of Matthias. Through the last year the exterior masonry of the church has been strengthened, plastered and the roof composition repaired, as has the belfry.

The building’s concealed treasures had been highlighted by quite a few investigation conclusions: in 1913, István Gróh documented in watercolor copies ten scenes of mural paintings found in the nave (they could not be restored and displayed at the time), and in 1935, semicircular basis walls were uncovered in the demolished sacristy, which may possibly be component of a demolished medieval round church. A person of the scenes copied by Gróh was uncovered in 2008 on the south wall of the nave, and future to it, on two sides of the south-east corner, two connected, formerly unidentified scenes were being disclosed: a 3-figure Crucifixion and an image of St Longinus with an attendant. The wall painting on the south wall, depicting a storm-tossed ship of pilgrims, dates from all-around 1400, although the images in the corner day from the early 14th century. It has also been identified that the portray of the corner was initially put less than a canopy and fashioned the decoration of an altar there – there are very number of similar canopied altarpieces from medieval Hungary.

In 2022, with the aid of the László Teleki Foundation, the uncovery of the mural paintings in the semicircular triumphal arch continued, and art historical analysis was also carried out. In this context, it was proposed that the appealing stone body of the southern entrance and the sq. sanctuary are not Romanesque but late Gothic, as verified by some analogies of the body of the sacristy door, and that the ribbed vault with the 1498 inscription on the keystone of the sanctuary is not the consequence of a later intervention, but this total composition was, in actuality, built at that time. 

The excavation of the mural disclosed a scene of the Annunciation on the eastern wall earlier mentioned the triumphal arch: on the left, a fragmentary determine of the Archangel Gabriel and the Lord, and on the ideal, a smaller element of the standing determine of Mary can be discerned. The Annunciation, arranged on the ideal and left sides of the triumphal arch, has several overseas and regional analogies: Palermo, Cappella Palatina, Reichenau-Oberzell, St. George’s Church, Padua, Scrovegni Chapel, Karaszkó, Disznajó, and so forth. The scene belongs to the plaster layer of the early 14th century.

The investigate on the within of the triumphal arch was also a surprise: the upper fragment of the determine of the Maiestas Domini, established in a mandorla in the centre, was preserved: its continuation was on the vault of the demolished authentic sanctuary, which was considerably more compact than the a person we have these days. Therefore, the fragment of the mural also proves that the existing sanctuary is secondary compared to the nave. The figure of Christ was accompanied by the symbols of the four evangelists, two of whom, the eagle (John) and probably the angel (Matthew), the latter holding an open up book, partially endure. The book’s minuscule inscription is partly legible and has a line from John’s Revelation.  The painting continued on the facet wall with the gallery of the apostles, of which 2-3 figures have been preserved, among the them St Andrew can be regarded from the X-shaped cross. 

Stylistically, the mural paintings of the triumphal arch are in a model very well regarded in Transylvania, typically termed Italo-Byzantine without having distinction. Analogies seem in quite a few other places: Csíkszentimre, Felvinc, Boroskrakkó, Szék, Ördöngösfüzes, etcetera. Although this amazing type is called Italo-Byzantine by some scholars, due to the fact of its prevalent use it is additional right to communicate of a Central European Gothic inclination applying the Italian custom of the Duecento interval. The correct dating of the wall paintings of this team is (was) problematic, as no historical data, inscriptions or other facts of any variety was obtainable for any of the buildings, so the dating of the monuments oscillated in the literature from the 1310s to the 1340s. For this cause, the restorer’s observation that the plaster of the fresco was in speak to with the ceiling and, by means of it, the roof, was of particular relevance. Dendrochronological investigation of the wooden components of the ceiling can preferably be applied to day the mural with once-a-year (or even seasonal) precision, which can give a article quem (afterwards than …) day for the mural. With the support of the László Teleki Basis, this very essential examine was carried out, which disclosed that one particular of the trees of the framework, which can be dated specifically, was lower in the winter of 1329-30 so that the design of the structure could have taken position as early as 1330, and the wall paintings can not be previously than that. This day applies to the central beam supporting the picket ceiling as very well as the picket pier in the centre of the nave. Some sections of the initial roof construction also date from this interval. This info puts a secure relationship to the Magyarvista wall paintings, and also to the total circle of monuments

The dendrochronological study was carried out in the autumn of 2022 by the Anno Domini Dendrolab crew from Csíkszereda, on the initiative of the wall painting restorers and artwork historians who were researching in the church. The study and subsequent laboratory investigation proved that the longitudinal central beam and the carved column supporting it in the nave date back again to the 14th century, from the a long time 1329-30. The ring investigation of the beams crafted into the stone gable walls and of some elements of the present mid-17th century roof structure also indicated that the nave itself and its before roof composition were being built at this time. In this scenario, the relationship is calendar year-unique, with oak felled in the winter season of 1329/1330 currently being applied for the previous roof structure.

The dendrochronological exploration shows that the wooden roof of the nave and the previous roof structure of the church in Magyarvista, as well as the column and the learn beam supporting them, were constructed in 1330, creating it the oldest surviving roof and slab framework in Transylvania, according to our existing understanding. The 14th-century roof structure can most most likely be reconstructed on the foundation of components reused from the earlier structure when the present roof was developed, but additional discipline analysis and measurements are required. 

This discovery of unique value encourages further investigation into wall painting, dendrochronology, archaeology, and art record, which we hope will consider location in 2023. Ideally, we will however get to see just one working day the fresco decoration of the church of Magyarvista.

Study and restoration of Magyarvista were being accomplished by Lóránd Kiss, Zsolt Sólyom, Melinda Filep, Janka Melinda Oláh, Károly Sipos (wall painting restoration, Imago Picta, Târgu Mures), Boglárka Tóth, István Botár, Denis Walgraffe (dendrochronology, Anno Domini Dendrolab, Csíkszereda), Attila Weisz (artwork historical past). Text by Loránd Kiss, Boglárka Tóth, Attila Weisz. Pictures courtesy of Attila Weisz.

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