"Spy Wednesday"

3 thoughts on “"Spy Wednesday"”

  1. Dear Rita, I love your little meditation…

    However, being of Slovakian origin, and having visited and seen the masterpiece you are mentioning, as well as having studied a bit about the artist (and being an artist myself), I would beg for a little more precise information at the beginning of your article…

    Master Paul ranks among the most important European woodcarvers in the Middle Ages. Just this altar you picked for the illustration is the tallest wooden altar in Europe… However, we do NOT know the origins of Master Paul. The fire of Levoca´s town archives in 1550 deprived us of almost all essential information about this important figure. We do not even know his surname. So we do NOT know whether Master Paul was born in Levoca, or whether he came to this town later.

    Hence calling him a Hungarian artist may or may not be as valid as calling him a Slovakian artist, or a Polish artist, or a German artist, or an Austrian artist, or even an Italian one. For he may have come from Passau, Wittenberg, Augsburg, Krakow, or perhaps even from northern Italy or Tirol…and the list goes on. On the other hand, he may have been a local lad who went off to study and work in Poland and/or Germany/Austria/Italy before returning back home skilled and ready for the amazing career ahead. We just don’t know…

    Anyway, all I am saying is, calling Master Paul a Hungarian artist may – but may well not – be correct. It is true, Slovakia was then called Upper Hungary, but not everyone living there was ethnically Hungarian. Even more so when you realise that the old Slavonic language (transcribed into its first recognised alphabet by Ss Cyril & Methodius – which later on became the basis of the contemporary Russian alphabet) was made the fourth official liturgical language alongside Greek, Hebrew and Latin already in 867! That was the time of the Great Moravian Empire, which was followed by the Kingdom of Hungary only later on. Needless to say, the Kingdom of Hungary allowed for a great migration of people across now recognised borders.

    So to recap, something that perhaps seems cosmetic, but is certainly more just: please do call Master Paul an artist in Upper Hungary, but do refrain from calling him a Hungarian artist… And that for one simple reason: there is nothing to prove or disprove that identification and so no nation has a valid right to “claim” him. This way he can remain a great Medieval woodcarver who transcends borders and boundaries with his fantastic sacred art – something akin to Gal 3:28…”.

    Thank you & God bless
    Monika

  2. Hi Monika,

    Thank you for this wonderful summary. My information is only as good as my source, which is the description posted on the Web Gallery of Art (linked in this post), identifying Master Paul as a “Hungarian artist.” But your point is well taken. I’ve deleted reference to the artist’s nationality; there are some things we just don’t know.

    Glad you liked the meditation. Come and visit us again!

  3. Pingback: A Meditation on Spy Wednesday | TeamRCIA

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