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

A press conference was focused to the church of Magyarvista (Viștea, Romania) at the László Teleki Basis, to announce the final result of modern investigations inside the medieval church of the village. The next overview is written on the foundation of the press release. The Calvinist church of Magyarvista in Cluj County is one of the most famous medieval monuments in Transylvania and the region of Kalotaszeg. The stone-designed, single-nave, sq.-apsed setting up with a Romanesque western doorway was most likely designed at the conclusion of the 13th century. The very first documentary mention of the village dates back to 1229, and in 1291 it became the property of the Transylvanian bishopric as a royal donation. The church is richly decorated with painted woodwork, the exceptional functions of which are the converted late Gothic priest’s chair, the coffered ceiling above 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 developing, the oldest bell in it relationship from 1487, from the time of Matthias. Throughout the very last calendar 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 investigate results: in 1913, István Gróh documented in watercolor copies ten scenes of mural paintings situated in the nave (they could not be restored and exhibited at the time), and in 1935, semicircular basis partitions have been located inside the demolished sacristy, which may perhaps be component of a demolished medieval round church. 1 of the scenes copied by Gróh was found in 2008 on the south wall of the nave, and up coming to it, on two sides of the south-east corner, two similar, earlier not known scenes have been discovered: a a few-determine Crucifixion and an impression of St Longinus with an attendant. The wall painting on the south wall, depicting a storm-tossed ship of pilgrims, dates from around 1400, even though the visuals in the corner date from the early 14th century. It has also been located that the portray of the corner was originally put beneath a cover and formed the decoration of an altar there – there are quite several very similar canopied altarpieces from medieval Hungary.

In 2022, with the support of the László Teleki Foundation, the uncovery of the mural paintings in the semicircular triumphal arch ongoing, and art historical analysis was also carried out. In this context, it was suggested that the fascinating 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 vestry doorway, and that the ribbed vault with the 1498 inscription on the keystone of the sanctuary is not the outcome of a later intervention, but this total construction was, in reality, constructed at that time. 

The excavation of the mural exposed a scene of the Annunciation on the jap wall earlier mentioned the triumphal arch: on the still left, a fragmentary figure of the Archangel Gabriel and the Lord, and on the correct, a tiny element of the standing determine of Mary can be discerned. The Annunciation, organized on the ideal and still left sides of the triumphal arch, has many overseas and community analogies: Palermo, Cappella Palatina, Reichenau-Oberzell, St. George’s Church, Padua, Scrovegni Chapel, Karaszkó, Disznajó, and so on. The scene belongs to the plaster layer of the early 14th century.

The research on the inside of of the triumphal arch was also a surprise: the higher fragment of the determine of the Maiestas Domini, established in a mandorla in the heart, was preserved: its continuation was on the vault of the demolished original sanctuary, which was a lot smaller sized than the one we have these days. So, the fragment of the mural also proves that the current sanctuary is secondary in contrast to the nave. The determine of Christ was accompanied by the symbols of the 4 evangelists, two of whom, the eagle (John) and maybe the angel (Matthew), the latter holding an open ebook, partially endure. The book’s minuscule inscription is partly legible and incorporates a line from John’s Revelation.  The portray continued on the facet wall with the gallery of the apostles, of which 2-3 figures have been preserved, among them St Andrew can be recognized from the X-shaped cross. 

Stylistically, the mural paintings of the triumphal arch are in a type nicely known in Transylvania, normally termed Italo-Byzantine without difference. Analogies appear in many other spots: Csíkszentimre, Felvinc, Boroskrakkó, Szék, Ördöngösfüzes, and so on. Although this breathtaking style is identified as Italo-Byzantine by some students, simply because of its prevalent use it is extra right to discuss of a Central European Gothic tendency using the Italian custom of the Duecento interval. The specific dating of the wall paintings of this group is (was) problematic, as no historic info, inscriptions or other information of any kind was obtainable for any of the properties, so the dating of the monuments oscillated in the literature from the 1310s to the 1340s. For this motive, the restorer’s observation that the plaster of the fresco was in get hold of with the ceiling and, by means of it, the roof, was of certain great importance. Dendrochronological analysis of the wooden elements of the ceiling can ideally be utilised to day the mural with annual (or even seasonal) precision, which can provide a publish quem (later on than …) date for the mural. With the assist of the László Teleki Basis, this incredibly important analyze was carried out, which exposed that a single of the trees of the construction, which can be dated precisely, was reduce in the winter of 1329-30 so that the development of the structure could have taken position as early as 1330, and the wall paintings are not able to be previously than that. This day applies to the central beam supporting the picket ceiling as effectively as the wooden pier in the centre of the nave. Some components of the unique roof construction also day from this interval. This details puts a secure dating to the Magyarvista wall paintings, and also to the total circle of monuments

The dendrochronological investigate was carried out in the autumn of 2022 by the Anno Domini Dendrolab group from Csíkszereda, on the initiative of the wall painting restorers and art historians who were studying in the church. The review 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 several years 1329-30. The ring assessment of the beams crafted into the stone gable walls and of some elements of the present mid-17th century roof construction also indicated that the nave by itself and its earlier roof structure have been created at this time. In this circumstance, the dating is calendar year-distinct, with oak felled in the winter of 1329/1330 currently being utilised for the former roof composition.

The dendrochronological exploration shows that the picket roof of the nave and the former roof composition of the church in Magyarvista, as very well as the column and the grasp beam supporting them, have been built in 1330, generating it the oldest surviving roof and slab framework in Transylvania, according to our present expertise. The 14th-century roof composition can most likely be reconstructed on the foundation of factors reused from the earlier construction when the existing roof was developed, but additional field study and measurements are essential. 

This discovery of individual worth encourages even further analysis into wall portray, dendrochronology, archaeology, and artwork record, which we hope will get spot in 2023. Ideally, we will continue to get to see one particular working day the fresco decoration of the church of Magyarvista.

Exploration and restoration of Magyarvista ended up completed 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 record). Textual content by Loránd Kiss, Boglárka Tóth, Attila Weisz. Pictures courtesy of Attila Weisz.

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