The Waldstein Collection of Landscapes by Thomas Ender

(Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books, Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

The series of 220 large watercolours depicting landscapes and scenes of rural life, made by Austrian landscape painter Thomas Ender (1793-1875) in Upper and north-eastern Hungary in 1861-1863, was donated by Count János Waldstein to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on 8 May, 1868 [1]. As the deed of gift reveals, he was motivated by a firm conviction that works of art like these should not be regarded as mere instruments of aesthetic pleasure but should rather be used to advance historical and geological knowledge and with it national development [2]. The collection had been first deposited with the main stocks of the Library of the Academy [3] under the shelf mark 'Archaeol. Fol. 308' but in the interest of protection and security it was later relocated to the Library's Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books, where the folders containing the pictures now bear the shelf mark 'Ms 4409'.

János Waldstein

Count János WaldsteinCount János Waldstein-Wartenberg (b. 21 August, 1809, Nagymegyer (?), County Komárom - d. 3 June, 1876, Vienna), jurist, lord lieutenant [főispán] of Ung County (1861), amateur painter, and art collector, had developed good personal connections with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences before he was made a member of its Board of Directors on 26 March, 1868 [4, 5]. He was an intimate friend of Count István Széchenyi (1791-1860), one of the Academy's founders, and a keen supporter of the various cultural and economic projects initiated by him.

After he obtained doctoral degrees in philosophy and law in Pest [6], Waldstein entered state service to make his living and found employment as a public servant in Buda, Vienna, and Trieste. He left public office in 1849 and started a new career as art collector and patron - an occupation that better suited both his character and field of interest. In addition, he became involved in projects of railway construction and the improvement of the navigability of inland waterways [7].

Although Waldstein, whose Czech ancestors were naturalised in Hungary in 1758, had landed properties in three counties (Komárom, Veszprém, and Ung) [8], his participation in profitable enterprises like these reflected rather his patriotism than genuine economic interests. His patriotism was in a great part nurtured by his friendship with Széchenyi, with whose political ideas he later came to dissociate himself from but whose projects for the public good he never ceased to unequivocally support. It was in the course of a voyage on the lower Danube between 24 June and 19 October, 1830, that Waldstein first heard about these projects. Both men kept diaries which attest to the beginning of the warm friendship which grew up between them and continued, without either of them yielding to the other's political and ideological views, also in spite of abating personal contact until Széchenyi's suicide in the asylum in Döbling near Vienna on April 8, 1860. Waldstein saw his friend several times in Döbling and was among the few present at the performance of the last rites upon Széchenyi's corpse in the local parish church [9].

It is characteristic of Waldstein's political position that in 1847 he challenged Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894) to a duel for his alleged offence of conservative delegates of the Upper House, also that in 1850 he was among the Hungarian aristocrats who demanded in a memorandum from Emperor Franz Josef to restore the 1847 constitutional status quo [10].

Waldstein and the fine arts

However, Waldstein's real field of interest was the visual arts. He was not only a patron but also an accomplished sketcher and gifted caricaturist. The Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books has several cartoons and illustrated letters by him [11]. One of these, entitled "Machen wir uns keine Illusion" [Do not deceive ourselves!] depicts Széchenyi as Royal Commissioner of the Regulation of the Lower Danube wading in the river at the Iron Gate Gorge with a bunch of steamships under his arms (K 293/3). An 1839 cartoon of Waldstein, another accomplished labour of love, portrays Széchenyi, author of the book "Pesti por és sár" [Dust and mud in Pest], as a street cleaner (K 293/4). His taste for refined style also comes out in the revision of Johann Nepomuk Ender's "Allegory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences" for the design of the seal of the Academy. As a member of the commission for the building of the Academy's palace he supported the neo-Renaissance design by Friedrich August Stüler (1800-1865) against the plans of a neo-Gothic building submitted by Imre Henszlmann (1818-1888), which was favoured by the Board of Directors. Hinting at Széchenyi's famous dictum, Waldstein argued that "even the stones used for the Academy's palace should themselves exclaim that Hungary will be reborn." [12] The building of the new palace he followed with great attention and showed special concern about the design of the future Academic Gallery [13].

He was elected the first head of the Hungarian Council of Arts in 1871 [14] and he was also the president of the Viennese Club of Connoisseurs. In his former capacity he worked on setting up official connections with British art life and in his articles he took stands in current issues of artistic concern [15, 16]. In his letters to Széchenyi he made frequent references to his artist acquaintances in Vienna, among them the painter Johann Nepomuk Ender, designer of the coat of arms of the Hungarian Academy and Széchenyi's companion on his journey to the East [17], and his twin brother, Johann Thomas, renowned watercolourist, professor of landscape painting, and court artist to Archduke Johann of Austria [18]. The brothers were well known to Waldstein and Széchenyi, who appear together with their relatives on the list of subscribers to the second printing of Conrad Adolf Hartleben's "Panorama der österreichischen Monarchie oder malerisch-romantisches Denkbuch" (1840). The copperplate engravings illustrating this work reproduce for the most part landscape paintings by Thomas Ender.

Thomas Ender and Hungary

Thomas EnderJohann Thomas Ender and his twin brother Johann Nepomuk were born into a Silesian family in Vienna on 3 November, 1793. In 1806 both enrolled in the St-Anne Academy of Fine Arts. From 1810 Thomas studied under the renowned watercolourist Laurenz Janscha. It was here that he started to paint landscapes in the open air. In 1817 his landscapes won the Emperor's gold medal, which in turn earned him the patronage of Prince Metternich. In 1817-1818 he became a draughtsman of the Austrian scientific expedition that travelled to Brazil with the daughter of Emperor Francis I of Habsburg, Leopoldina, who married the crown prince of Brazil, Dom Pedro, the future King Pedro IV of Portugal. During his stay in Brazil, Thomas made hundreds of drawings and watercolours that are to be found in the collection of the Akademie der Künste in Vienna today. In 1832, he married Therese Árvay, daughter of an official of Buda castle. From 1837 we find Thomas in Vienna again as ordinary professor of landscape painting [19] but he often left the city for Italy and the course of the Danube.

Thomas Ender got to know Hungary more intimately as a companion of Archduke Johann of Austria on a voyage on the Danube from Vienna through Galaţi to Odessa in 1837. (Johann Ender made a similar journey with Széchenyi in 1818). It was also then that he became acquainted with the Hungarian companions of Archduke Johann, Count Festetics, Count Pongrácz, and Count Draskovich [20]. Their acquaintance probably proved to be of great help when he was travelling in Hungary in the early 1860s. The purpose of the Danube voyage was to depict famous sites on the banks of the river for the Hartleben Publishing House, which printed these landscapes as "Malerische Ansichten der Donau in Ungarn von Theben bis Golumbacz mit Darstellungen von R. Alt, Th. Ender und C. Klette" in Pest in 1838. Hartleben reprinted Ender's Danube landscapes as steel-engravings in a separate volume, "Die Wundermappe der Donau oder das Schönste und Merkwürdigste an den Ufern dieses Stromes von Ursprung bis zur Mündung" [A portfolio of wonders of the Danube or The most beautiful and noteworthy things along the banks of this watercourse from its headwaters to its delta] in 1839, which was reprinted in 1841. From these collections Franz Weidmann selected 23 landscapes by Ender for the aforementioned "Panorama der österreichischen Monarchie..." [Panorama of the Austrian Monarchy...] (first printed in 1839 and reprinted in 1840 and 1846) [21]. The "Panorama" was also published by Hartleben, who brought out a separate lithographic album of Ender's Hungarian landscapes, entitled "Magyarország festői mutatványokban" [Hungary artistically displayed], in Pest in 1844. In the next years Thomas made several study trips with his students to the Austrian Alps and South Tirol. In 1847 he went with Archduke Johann to Innsbruck and then to Northern Italy; it was the last time that the two travelled together [22]. In 1850 Thomas retired from the Academy on order of the Emperor. The nine-month journey he made to Italy in 1853 was in all probability a farewell gift from Archduke Johann [23].

We do not know anything about the beginning of Ender's relationship with János Waldstein. They most likely established personal contact by 1861, when the artist escorted his son, a railway engineer, to the construction site of the Košice-Oderberg railway [24]. Waldstein, who held shares in the railway construction company [25], had already a keen interest in Ender's paintings. The existence of relations between the two men is confirmed by landscapes that Ender painted in the Waldstein estate in Vinné (items 18.6-18.8), also by pictures of the Mihalovce mansion, which was owned by Waldstein's relatives, the Count Sztáray family (items 18.1-18.5) [26]. Landscapes of Užhorod (items 18.12-18.14) also seem to have been commissioned by Waldstein, who was appointed lord lieutenant of Ung County in 1861 [27]. The pictures of Count Manó Almássy's mansion in Parchovany (items 18.9-18.11) were probably made at the owner's request, too [28]. On his journey in Upper Hungary, Ender stayed for a while in the Mednyánszky mansion in Strážky (items 12.8-12.10). Here he made excursions to the High Tatras and found time for amending childhood drawings by László Mednyánszky (1852-1919), who was to become a renowned painter on his own right [29]. Watercolours now kept in the Albertina in Vienna and the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts bear witness to Ender's 1861-1863 visits to Transylvania, Gödöllő, and Lake Balaton [30]. In a letter to Miksa Falk (dated 14 November, 1869) Waldstein mentions that Ender was planning a trip to Transylvania [31] but, according to the confirmable facts of his life, he eventually did (or could) not make it.

The watercolours made by Ender in Upper and north-eastern Hungary are for the most part in the Waldstein Collection now [32]. The pictures of the Almássy mansion in Parchovany were displayed in an exhibition in Pest organised by the Hungarian Association of Arts between 15 September, 1863 and 20 January, 1864 [33]. Reproduction of pictures of castles by Ender was begun at the request of the Hungarian Monograph Society in 1914. The Society planned to publish the reproductions in an album illustrating the life in Hungarian castles, which however never made it to the printing office [34]. A third of the Waldstein Collection was first shown to the public at an exhibition by the Department of Graphic Arts of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts in November, 1992 [35]. A small number of watercolours were also displayed as contemporary works of art at the exhibition of paintings by Károly Markó the Elder (1791-1860) in the Hungarian National Gallery in October-December, 1991 [36].

Landscapes made by Ender in 1853-1866 have been characterised as late works by his monographer Walter Koschatzky, who curiously does not mention the watercolours in the Waldstein Collection [37]. Close scrutiny reveals that Ender's late works were executed at the high standards he had set himself early in his career. His realistic approach to nature and the way he depicted it in his works did not change much.

Ender's landscapes of Upper Hungary

With a few exceptions, Ender's paintings in the Waldstein Collection are made in aquarelle technique on white paper. Still visible in many cases are the contours of human and animal figures, also some minutiae, which the artist sketched up in pencil but eventually left unpainted. In twenty-four cases, there are pencil drafts or incomplete watercolours on the verso as well. Items 11.1, 16.1 and 16.12 are unusually wide three-part panoramic landscapes. Each picture is mounted on a 500 × 657 mm cardboard backing. Backing 134 is empty, i.e., item 14.7 is missing. The collection is now kept in four large folders made specifically for that purpose and inscribed in guilt letters with "Waldstein János gr. a M. T. Academiának 1868" [Count János Waldstein to the H. Academy of S. 1868].

Although only two of the pictures (9.9 and 9.13) were actually signed by him, in the length of the lower edge of the paper the artist usually identified the landscape depicted. These German inscriptions are written in pencil (in German or Latin script) and often contain abbreviations. Frequently, details considered worthy of note (the name or the direction of a distant village, a far-off mountain peak or a valley, the owner of a castle or an estate etc.) are also indicated at the upper or lower edge of the picture. From the misspellings it appears that the foreign names he jotted down by hearing. Many of these inscriptions got mutilated when the papers were trimmed but some of them were later rewritten, by the artist himself or someone else, above or below the mutilated lines.

The upper right corner of each backing is imprinted with the words "Waldst. Gyűjt." (short for Waldstein Collection), followed by a serial number in ink. The same hand is responsible for the old-fashioned Hungarian titles in the lower left corners of the backings and for the lists accompanying each folder. (The lists may be viewed here: list 1, list 2, list 3, list 4.) The Hungarian titles were obviously given by someone who was familiar enough with what was depicted to complete the German titles; in some cases he erred, though (e.g., 15.10, 15.14, and 16.12). However, the present, improved or corrected, titles by which the pictures are referred to here are ultimately based on these lists.

The appropriate shelf-mark, ranging from Ms 4409/1 to Ms 4409/220, is found in the upper left corner of each backing.

In most pictures, there are additional numbers in pencil along the lower edge or in one of the corners or, occasionally, on the verso as well. Some of these seem to have been provided by Ender, others may have been added later but it is difficult to discern between the various hands. By the time the backings were numbered, the sequence of pictures had to some extent been disturbed and items that logically followed each other drifted apart. When this exhibition was in preparation, the picture numbers turned out to correspond to a geographical sequence and the shelf-marks to have nothing to do with it. It is with this reason that the pictures are displayed here irrespective of the sequence defined by the latter.


[1] Akadémiai Értesítő 3/1868/207.
[2] WALDSTEIN János levele az MTA Elnökének [János Waldstein's letter to the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences]. 1868. máj. 8. MTAK Kézirattár RAL 387a/1868.
[3] DIVALD Kornél: A Magyar Tudományos Akadémia palotája és gyűjteményei [The Palace and the collections of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences]. Budapest, 1917. 97.
[4] WURZBACH, Constant: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich. Bd. 52. Wien, 1885. 238-239.
[5] WALDSTEIN János levelei Horvát Istvánnak [János Waldstein's letters to István Horvát]. 1836-1841. OSZK Kézirattár Levelestár.
[6] SZINNYEI József: Magyar írók élete és munkái [The life and works of Hungarian writers]. 14. Budapest, 1914. 1406.
[7] SZINNYEI, i.m. 1405-1406. - WURZBACH, i.m., Bd. 52. 238.
[8] Magyar nemzetségi zsebkönyv. Első rész. Főrangú családok. I. [Hungarian genealogical handbook. Part 1. Aristocratic families. I.] Budapest, 1888. 261-262. - Magyarország vármegyéi és városai [Counties and towns of Hungary]. Komárom vármegye. (Budapest, é.n.) 51, 57, 72, 107-108. - NAGY Iván: Magyarország családai címerekkel és nemzékrendi táblákkal. 11. [The families of Hungary with coats of arms and genealogical tables. 11.] Pest, 1865. 24.
[9] EÖTVÖS Károly: Esterházy, Zichy, Waldstein. Pesti Napló 1877. aug. 5. 201. sz. 7. - KÁLNOKY Hugó: Széchenyi István és Waldstein János keleti utazása 1830-ban [The oriental journey of István Széchenyi and János Waldstein in 1830]. Kiad. bev. és jegyz. Kálnoky Hugó. (Budapest, é.n.) 10-27.
[10] WURZBACH, i.m. Bd. 52. 239.
[11] WALDSTEIN János levelei Széchenyi Istvánnak [János Waldstein's letters to István Széchenyi]. 1831-1847. MTAK Kézirattár K 209/91, K 209/96-97.
[12] DIVALD, i.m. 11-12, 53.
[13] WALDSTEIN János levele Dessewffy Emilhez [János Waldstein's letter to Emil Dessewffy]. 1864. jún. 9. MTAK Kézirattár RAL 690/1864. - WALDSTEIN János levele Dessewffy Emilhez. 1865. máj. 17. MTAK Kézirattár RAL 1329/1865.
[14] Művészeti lexikon [Encyclopedia of arts]. Szerk. Éber László. Budapest, 1935. 542. - SZINNYEI, i.m. 1406.
[15] WALDSTEIN János levelei Pulszky Ferenchez [János Waldstein's letters to Ferenc Pulszky]. 1871-1876. OSZK Kézirattár Fond VIII/1133.
[16] Magyar képzőművészek lexikona. I. [Encyclopedia of Hungarian artists. I.] Szerk. Szendrei János, Szentiványi Gyula. Budapest, 1915. 162. - WALDSTEIN János: Szt. István keresztelése. Benczúr Gyula festménye [The baptism of St. Stephen. The painting by Gyula Benczúr]. Kelet Népe 1876. febr. 17. 47. sz.
[17] SZABÓ László, Bártfai: Adatok gróf Széchenyi István és kora történetéhez [Facts about István Széchenyi and contemporary history]. Budapest, 1943. 115. - WURZBACH, i.m. Bd. 4. 1858. 38-40.
[18] WURZBACH, i.m. Bd. 4. 1858, 41-43.
[19] KOSCHATZKY, Walter: Thomas Ender. (1793-1875) Kammermaler Erzherzog Johanns. Graz, 1982. 168, 227-229.
[20] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 83-84.
[21] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 83.
[22] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 168.
[23] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 168-169.
[24] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 156.
[25] KÁLNOKY, i.m. 24. - Vasúti lexikon [Railway Encyclopedia]. Budapest, 1991. 125.
[26] NAGY, i.m. 24.
[27] NAGY, i.m. 24.
[28] Magyar képzőművészek lexikona, i.m. 435-436.
[29] MALONYAY Dezső: Mednyánszky. Budapest, 1905. 23.
[30] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 156.
[31] WALDSTEIN János levele Falk Miksának [János Waldstein's letter to Miksa Falk]. 1869. nov. 14. OSZK Kézirattár Fond IV/966.
[32] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 156.
[33] Pesti Műegylet Évkönyvei. 1863. Kiállított művek lajstroma [Annals of the Art Society of Pest. 1863. List of exhibited works of art]. 1863. szept. 15 - 1864. jan. 20.
[34] CSÁNKI Dezső levele az Akadémia elnökének [Dezső Csánki's letter to the President of the Academy]. 1914. márc. 28. MTAK Kézirattár RAL Könyvtári iratok K 808:127/1914.
[35] Szépművészeti Múzeum. A Grafikai Osztály XLVI. kiállítása. Magyar Tájak [Museum of Fine Arts. The 46th exhibition of the Department of Graphics. Hungarian landscapes]. 1922. november. - Szépművészeti Múzeum kölcsönzési kérelme, a kölcsönzés feltételei és a kölcsönzési elismervény [Loan request of the Museum of Fine Arts, conditions of lending and the receipt]. Budapest, 1922. okt. 27. illetve 1922. nov. 12. MTAK Kézirattár RAL Könyvtári iratok K 810:39/1922.
[36] Id. MARKÓ Károly. Kiállítás. Magyar Nemzeti Galéria [Károly Markó the Elder. Exhibition. Hungarian National Gallery]. 1991. okt.-dec.
[37] KOSCHATZKY, i.m. 156.

Portrait of Thomas Ender by Jos. Danhauser (1834) can be found in: Thomas Ender (1793-1875). Niederösterreich in der Biedermeierzeit. Sonderausstellung 23. Okt. 1981 bis 7. März 1982. Niederösterreichisches Landesmuseum, Wien, 1982.

Portrait of János Waldstein can be found in: KÁLNOKY Hugó: Széchenyi István és Waldstein János keleti utazása 1830-ban [The oriental journey of István Széchenyi and János Waldstein in 1830]. Kiad. bev. és jegyz. Kálnoky Hugó. (Budapest, é.n.)

(Kinga Körmendy - Júlia Szabó - Béla Rozsondai)