Behind the camera: Elemér Révhelyi

Looking at Elemér Révhelyi’s photos, silhouettes of a varicoloured unique collection come up. His own photos are primarily related to buildings and cities designed by Jakab Fellner. However, his collection includes not only the Hungarian baroque architecture, but also well-known touristic sights of foreign cities. Our current virtual exhibition introduces ‘photographers’ of our database, first of all art historian Elemér Révhelyi. His heritage was placed in the Kuny Domokos Museum of Tata, according to his last will, and we would like to thank the Museum that they enriched our database.

Birth of an art historian

2013_0365.jpgElemér Révhelyi was born into a family of under-clerk parents in Budapest on 27 October 1889. He finished his elementary school studies in Budapest, and then he graduated at the Hungarian Royal State Teacher Training College of Pápa in 1909. His affinity to art and art history revealed itself as early as that time. He came back to Budapest and enrolled in the drawing-teacher department of the Art College, where he graduated in 1913.

In 1927, he attended the arts faculty of Pázmány Péter University, where he obtained a PHD degree in art history, antique archaeology and antique history in 1932. The reason for his late enrolment was a less-known and sad momentum of his life: he was captured in 1914 and was a prisoner of war in Russia for 6 years. After returning home, he took a drawing-teacher job at the elementary school of Százados Road, which he did not give up during his university studies. In 1951, he was invited to the department of History of Architecture at the University of Technology, and he retired from there in 1965.

Researching the Hungarian baroque art, with special emphasis on the master builders’ activities

2013_1252.jpgIf one has to summarise Révhelyi’s interest in a sentence, the subcaption above would be the most suitable one. Révhelyi’s photographic heritage includes photos related to his field of interest naturally. Its science historic significance is due to the fact that the photos were not taken for orders, but they were illustrating accessories of his researches.

He realised that photos recording the outer and inner contemporary state of certain architectural objects had at least as much importance as archive documents had. It is not surprising either that during studying baroque architecture, his interest turned towards architect Jakab Fellner, who worked for Esterházy Counts mostly. Fellner’s first significant work was the Roman Catholic Parish Church of Tata, but the Episcopal Castle of Eger, the Episcopal Palace of Veszprém and his last grand creation, the Parish Church of Pápa, are related to his name as well. Révhelyi wrote his candidate dissertation on Fellner, with the title ‘Early years of Jakab Fellner’s activity’. Due to his attachment to Tata and its museum collections, he gave his research documents related to the family Esterházy and Jakab Fellner to the Kuny Domokos Museum of Tata in his last will and testament.

2013_1672.jpgBesides all these valuable photos, his huge amount of written materials and photo collection that you can see in our photo gallery as well, are of exceptionally great importance. Cathedrals of the former Upper Hungary, sights of Paris, gothic church portals and baroque fountains come to life in them.


Translated by Zita Aknai



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