The watercolours presented here for the first time to a wider public were painted by the Austrian landscape painter Thomas Ender (1793-1875) in the northern and north-eastern parts of the former territory of Hungary and the mountains of Galicia, on locations in present-day Slovakia, also Poland, the Ukraine, and Hungary. The 220 paintings were donated to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1868 by Count János Waldstein (1809-1876), jurist, patron of the arts, and member of the Academy's Board of Directors. Today the Waldstein Collection is deposited in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books of the Library of the Academy, under the shelf mark "Ms 4409".
The subjects depicted by Ender include plains of rivers, streams, tarns, peaks, ruins of castles, mansions with gardens, towns and villages. Since Ender's visit the towns and villages have been considerably rebuilt, many of the buildings ruined or pulled down, and the natural environment changed, sometimes beyond recognition. Each picture is accompanied by detailed descriptions. In the majority of cases, we have followed the history of castles, towns, and buildings as late as the end of the 19th century, and rounded out each entry with a short bibliography. Although the arrangement of the pictures suggests an imagined itinerary, the course chosen and the road taken by visitors are both optional and are helped by a series of maps. We deal in detail with the artist, his oeuvre, and the history of the collection.
Although we have decided to digitise the images in the interest of their protection, we hope that the internet publication of Ender's watercolours will be of interest not only to art historians, historians of horticulture, regional historians, experts of the protection of monuments and ethnographers, but also to tourists and hikers, students and teachers, in a word, to anyone who appreciates nature and its beauties. We are convinced that the natural and cultural treasures depicted by Ender are part of a heritage that belongs not only to the countries concerned and Europe but also to all of us. The accompanying texts can be consulted in four languages: Hungarian, Slovak, German, and English.
This virtual exhibition was sponsored by the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage. It was set up and opened in the year 2000, to commemorate the millennium of Hungary and the 175th anniversaries of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1825) and the Library of the Academy (1826), as well as the 125th anniversary of Thomas Ender's death.
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