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The Apponyi House

Apponyi House
The cellars and the ground-floor of the newly reconstructed premises of Apponyi Palace house the Museum of Viticulture. It documents the history of viticulture, vine growing, grape harvesting and processing in the territory of Bratislava from antiquity up to the 20th century.
The other floors accommodate the Period Rooms Museum. The first floor is arranged as a grand piano nobile evoking an aristocratic interior of the end of the 18th century. Some examples of furniture in the interior of a town house at the end of the 18th and the end of the 19th centuries are displayed on the second floor.
 

 
 

Apponyi HouseApponyi House

The palace was commissioned by Count Juraj Apponyi, a descendant of an ancient “Hungarian” aristocratic family. He was a member of the “Hungarian” royal governing council and became the prime administrator of Tolna county. He was born in Oponice but he spent almost all his life in Prešporok – at that time, the main residential and royal town in the “Hungarian” Kingdom, where he served as a royal adviser for 32 years.

The palace complex was built in 1761-1762 as a new construction, replacing two older burgher houses on the site. The designer is unknown, although older publications ascribe the design to F. A. Hildebrandt. It had all the attributes of a residential and decorative municipal palace. The rooms on the ground floor overlooking the streets originally served as residential and storage rooms. The entrance passage leads to a relatively austere palace staircase with stair-rails in the Rococo style; since the 1930s the landing has been decorated with statues of saints in the Baroque style.

The rooms on both floors in the west wing of the palace are arranged as a row of reception rooms with inter-connecting doors. The first floor is designed as a grand piano nobile. The decorations in the Rococo – Classicist style are exemplars of an interior design style which has survived intact. The wooden panelling on the walls, the door frames with over-doors (supraporte), the majority of the doors as well as the coverings of the window embrasures along with the internal shutters have all survived in these rooms. The original window glass, in a few cases replaced by glass from the 18th century, has been preserved in exceptionally good condition. Above the door and window frames are paintings on mythical and allegorical themes by an unknown artist painted using the “en grisaille” technique on paper with canvas underneath. The abundance of rich stucco ornaments in the Rococo style on the ceilings is also original.

The second floor premises served as the residential rooms for the owners of the palace. They are lower and the wall decoration is simpler. Six to eight layers of paint have been uncovered in the rooms. Currently, the rooms’ decoration is reconstructed from the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. The oldest layer of painting, dating from 1762, is only presented in the grand principal room. The wall decorations depicted landscapes with figures in frames in the Rococo style, probably painted from drawings. Some parts of the paintings were later damaged by breaking through for door-openings. The door was walled up and, in the 2007 reconstruction of the palace, the wall painting was supplemented with neutral retouching. The wall-painted decorations from the period around 1762 have also partially survived in the room which is furnished as a bedroom from the end of the 19th century and which adjoins the mediaeval building of the Old Town Hall. In the other rooms, there are mainly paintings in the window bays with Classicist medallions and flower motifs.

In the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, the attic was certainly used as living accommodation. Especially during the periods of country assemblies and royal coronations, a large number of visitors were accommodated in the attics of burgher houses and aristocratic palaces. At present, the attic has been completely cleared, the old wooden boarding which divided the attic into a number of small spaces has been removed and the attic is arranged to serve as a study depository of glass and ceramics.

Only two wings of the palace have survived in their original state: the western – the frontage, and the short southern wing. Up to the second half of the 19th century, to 1910, respectively, the originally trapezoid courtyard was surrounded by two more wings which probably included household facilities and were also occupied by servants. The palace served as an aristocratic residence up to 1867 when the town purchased it and adapted it to serve the purposes of the Town Hall. Individual parlours and rooms were converted into offices, and sessions of the town council were held in the principal room on the first floor. In 1911 and 1912 a new building was constructed on the site of the demolished eastern courtyard wing which served the needs of the municipal government. The frontage of the new building which faces the courtyard of Apponyi Palace is designed as a free imitation of the façade of the demolished country granary by F.A. Hillebrandt which stood on the site of the current Reduta, with its escutcheon supplemented by two of the town’s coats of arms. In the second half of the 19th century, the town’s coat of arms was also added to the Rococo cartouche above the entrance gateway to the palace.

The town was gradually releasing the premises in the palace for the needs of the Bratislava City Museum which had been established in 1868. The plans of the building from 1904 show rooms on the ground floor designated as museum premises which probably served as offices and accommodated those collections not accessible to the public. As early as 1926 the museum opened its collection to the public in the reception rooms on the first floor. In 1930 the gallery on the second floor was opened, followed in the next year by the Bratislava Museum of Viticulture on the ground floor.

In the period prior to the reconstruction, the museum administered exhibition premises on the first floor of Apponyi Palace. The Regional Library was housed on the second floor and some rooms and the attic served as the museum depository.

In 2003, the municipal government put into effect the project for the reconstruction of the building and the refurbishment work could start. During the initial survey works, new information was obtained on the original housing on the plot of land, as well as on the original decoration of individual rooms in the palace. The archaeological survey conducted in the courtyard and on the site under the gateway found evidence of older walls in the cellar. Under the courtyard, the remains of cellar walls of a building in the Gothic style with a fragment of a portal from the 15th century have been found. On the site under the gateway, well-preserved artefacts from the Laténe period have been revealed.

The cellars and the ground-floor of the newly reconstructed premises of Apponyi Palace house the Museum of Viticulture. It documents the history of viticulture, vine growing, grape harvesting and processing in the territory of Bratislava from antiquity up to the 20th century. It also introduces visitors to two of the most important wine-making companies in Bratislava - Hubert J. E. and Palugyay, companies whose sparkling wines, in particular, won a number of international awards

The other floors accommodate the Museum of Historical Interiors. The first floor is arranged as a grand piano nobile evoking an aristocratic interior of the end of the 18th century. Some examples of furniture in the interior of a town house at the end of the 18th and the end of the 19th centuries are displayed on the second floor.

 

 
Responsible: Beáta Husová
Created / changed: 6.5.2008 / 6.5.2008

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