Indiana University Bloomington
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Hungarian Art in European Context - Art, Society and Everyday Life in Hungary Part I:  From the Beginnings to the End of the 17th Century
CEUS-U 320/U520
Agnes Fulemile

This course has been approved for A&H and CSA credit


Hungary throughout its 1000 years of history was a contact area in the geographic centre of Europe welcoming influences from East and West, North and South alike. Hungary developed art forms and cultural expressions which had been in interaction with European art, reflected major European trends but at the same time exhibited genuine regional characteristics. Art in Hungary was shared and produced by not only ethnic Hungarian artist, but by those who came from various ethnic backgrounds in the multiethnic kingdom or were itinerant artists working in Hungary for the royal court, the church, aristocrats or city-communities. Almost hardly anything is known about Hungarian art for those who are trained in Western European-centered art schools of art historiography. East- Central European art has been only relatively recently highlighted by „non-native” art historians.


The Hungarians when arriving to Europe from the East at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries AD, came from a cultural circle of equestrian nomads of the Steppe zone, had vivid contacts with Byzantium, adopted Christianity mostly through Slavic, German and Italian mediation. The establishment of the kingdom ran parallel with the foundation of the church system, building of ecclesiastic and court centers. The church invited and trained artists at the new facilities, Western city-burgers brought their craftsmanship with them, nomads arriving intermittently in several waves’ re-strengthened taste for Oriental goods. Dynastic marriage connections and later non-Hungarian ruling dynasties (Anjou, Luxembourg, Jagello, Habsburg) colored court culture and built connections with influential European art centers. From the first part of the 16th century. the central part of Hungary came to be occupied by the Ottoman Turks for 150 years until the end of 17th century, Transylvania became an independent principality and Western and Upper Hungary was ruled by the Habsburgs.

The course will give a glimpse into major art periods and various branches of fine and applied arts embedded into a context of social history. Esthetic objects, life style and environment of various social classes will be discussed. The primary focus is on Hungary, but a wider European context is used as a tool for comparison.


The course is designed for two-semesters. The first part in the fall semester follows the topic from the early Middle Ages to the end of the 17th century. The second part in the spring semester will concentrate on the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Although students are encouraged to attend both semesters, participation in only a single semester is possible.



5-6 pp paper with a PowerPoint presentation in class  15 %

l0‑l2 pp term paper   40%                

In-class final paper (description of projected images, essay)  30 %

Seminar work: (class activity, reading reports, work with web sources)  15 %