When the Second World War came to an end, the surviving members of staff of Hungarian museums, whatever their original professions, faced a vital common task: to survey the losses caused by the war and obtain material resources for reconstruction. In fortunate cases, this essential work took several months; in others, it sometimes dragged on for years.
      The Budapest History Museum, whose job of collecting and conserving written, visual and material sources relating to the city had been interrupted by the war, had by the 1950s reached the stage where preparatory work on two catalogues of iconographic sources relating to Budapest, the vedutas, could be resumed. The catalogues covered views authentically recording the whole or specific parts of the city and made by artistic - i.e. non-photographic - techniques. They cover two consecutive but developmentally distinct periods. The first is from the earliest times up to 1800, and the second the 19th century up to the rise of photography and the uniting of the three independent parts of the city in 1873. A post-war surge in interest in the veduta form gave the scholarly treatment of Budapest vedutas a head start over other European cities. Without going into the question of the relationship between the war and vedutas (the destruction of European cities and the nostalgia prompted by violently-imposed national boundaries), it is important to note that the results of this work bear out the historical significance of the Hungarian capital.
      The writer of these lines had the task of writing the catalogue covering the first of these two periods - Budapest régi látképei (Old Budapest Vedutas) - as a young member of staff of the Historical Gallery of the Hungarian National Museum. The catalogue was published in book form in 1963. The second part of the work was undertaken by Ervin Seenger (1908-1981), who worked in the Engravings and Photographs Department of the Budapest History Museum. He had originally graduated as a lawyer, but through his work in the Museum had become one of the foremost experts in Budapest history. Sadly, for administrative reasons, the Museum management lost interest in the work, and no publisher would take on a 19th century veduta catalogue even after Seenger's death. His research thus remained incomplete, and we have been deprived of a reliable catalogue of Budapest's finest vedutas ever since.
      It is an old cliché that every catalogue published is immediately obsolete, and every catalogue not published is immediately forgotten. But publication of Seenger's work, representing several years of research, would have greatly eased the work of subsequent historians. And there is still a need for an analysis of the authentic views of Budapest in the mid-19th century, the period when the city was developing its most beautiful and most harmonious outward face. Publication of the veduta volume still counts among the Budapest History Museum's debts. Perhaps there is now hope that the plan will be realised.
      The study of these historic images of Budapest has shown us that although they are principally concerned with the story of one city, they bear the marks of the history of the country as a whole. In 16th and 17th century Hungary, the Turkish occupation had a stimulating effect on the visual record of Hungarian towns and castles. The century of war influenced the cityscape and images of it, and the methods employed to research vedutas has to take account of this. The cityscapes of countries to the west of Hungary were recorded by local artists or foreign travellers following their own tastes or the demands of their patrons. The permanent state of war in Hungary generated a series of events whose importance went beyond the country's borders and caught the attention of a European public concerned about its own fate. There was thus a demand for information on these events in both words and pictures. The protracted conflicts thus left a substantial legacy of vedutas, siege pictures and battle pictures showing Hungarian castles and events, in quantities which have often overwhelmed previous researchers.
      A method therefore had to be found to address the problem of studying old Budapest vedutas. Vedutas published as illustrations of printed text can usually be dated quite accurately, and "family trees" of the kind familiar from textual history studies can be generated from the interrelationships of composition details and the vedutas ranked by authenticity. This results in an imaginary grid of reproduced vedutas which makes the remaining tasks considerably easier: to fit the paintings and the drawings into the same system.
      Having unexpectedly emerged only recently, Seenger's manuscript promised a difficult editing task. The catalogue of the 1800-1873 period lists twice as many vedutas as the first volume, which covers a longer period. The many emendations indicate that the author worked on the text up to the end of his life, long before the age of the computer. There are cases where it is impossible to determine which number he intended to enter newly-found compositions into the catalogue. Consequently, Seenger's original and much-adjusted numbering system cannot be retained. But we have wherever possible attempted retain the author's catalogue structure. The introduction preserves his style, correcting only spelling and suchlike. Works published since the author's death are separated by square brackets from those he could have seen.
      A comparison of Seenger's manuscript with Budapest régi látképei reveals the use of two different catalogue-making techniques (of the many possible). The differences follow from both the historical situation and the tastes of the authors. The most striking difference is that in Seenger's work vedutas are more rarely shown as the backgrounds of sieges and battles and more often as the surroundings of events connected with members of the royal family, together with some bourgeois and popular genre themes. In addition, most of the older vedutas are by foreign artists, whereas more and more Hungarian names appear in connection with the 19th century pictures.
      The two catalogues start off similarly, but use different categories. Their raw material consists of vedutas showing the city as a whole or parts of it, grouped by viewpoint and direction of view, and chronologically within each category. The viewpoints and the view predominate among Seenger's material, and the skies in the older pictures.
      Seenger's conception of "veduta" is apparent from a review he wrote of Budapest régi látképei, where he stated that material in a veduta catalogue is best arranged by topographical criteria. Although city views can of course be collected according to technique, artistic schools or eras, and more specific studies could conceivably work with criteria other than the topographical, Seenger is surely right as regards the treatment of a city's vedutas as a whole.
      From this point, the structure of the two catalogues then diverges. The five chapters of Budapest régi látképei covering the whole and parts of the cityscape are followed by three shorter chapters. The first, Paintings and Drawings, was the subject of Seenger's above-mentioned criticism. The final two chapters are headed Of Dubious Authenticity and Only Known from the Literature. In Seenger's catalogue, paintings are dealt with together with the other techniques, and apocryphal compositions devoid of all authenticity are omitted, understandable in the age when the photograph was advancing. Pictures known only from the literature are dealt with separately in Seenger's catalogue, but at the end of each category, not in a chapter of their own.
      What makes Seenger's catalogue most special is a large chapter devoted to vedutas forming an identifiable background to different kinds of composition - portraits, battle and siege pictures and depictions of other events (flood, Revolution and War of Independence, coronation of Francis Joseph). It brings the numbered list of items in the catalogue to an end (at number 1500). After that comes an important group of compositions linked by some common element (e.g. title, printing plate). Seenger calls it Picture Groups, Series, Frame Pictures. He only included a group if it was entirely devoted to Budapest. Seenger was obliged to set up this category to avoid repetition in respect of these times. Dividing information in this way between the catalogue items and the specific chapter, however, makes it difficult to find such things as artists' names. The solution employed in Budapest régi látképei was to give the general data applying to a series when discussing the first item, so that later only a reference to that catalogue number was necessary. Seenger's arrangement was not changed here, however, because it would have meant revising the entire catalogue.
      For each catalogue item, Seenger gives the usual data required for identification: the original title or one applied by himself, the artist or modern attribution, technique, dimensions, publishing circumstances, the story of how it was made, an assessment of authenticity, location and bibliography. Since the vedutas are usually held in iconographical collections in which the inventory number is no help in finding the item, he does not give it.
      How far Seenger extended and finalised the catalogue cannot be determined exactly. The present editors are aware that the nearly thirty years since Seenger's death have passed without anybody making a serious study of the Budapest vedutas, and so the book in its present form is only a beginning. It will, however, be of enormous assistance to the researcher who - hopefully in the near future - carries on Seenger's work. Making good the catalogue's deficiencies and checking Seenger's analogues is not something that can be undertaken here and now. A few examples will serve to point the way for continuation of the work.
      Ágost Frigyes Walzel made a lithograph of the interior of the Grand Hall of the National Museum as converted for its use as Upper House of the National Assembly. It was published in Imre Vahot's Országgyűlési emlék (National Assembly Memoir) in 1849. Its omission from the catalogue can only have been a printing error, because together with its companion picture, that of the grand hall of the Vigadó, which accommodated the Lower House, it survives in several Budapest public collections, and Seenger himself published it under number 1323. Finally, Anton Ruttner, for his album Das Kaiserthum Oesterreich, published in 1871, used several pictures from Magyarország és Erdély eredeti képekben by Hunvalvy and Rohbock, published twenty years earlier. Three of these were completely new: the Danube frontage of the Vigadó, a variation of a steel engraving by Georg Heisinger in volume I, details of Margit Island by an unknown artist, and a steel engraving by J. Riegel, after Rohbock, of Ferenc József rakpart.
      The publication of Ervin Seenger's unfinished manuscript catalogue at last completes the publication of painted and drawn vedutas of the Hungarian capital. It will be an indispensable reference book for the museum's graphic departments, and also for art dealers and engraving collectors.
      It would be unreasonable to expect the catalogue to cover vedutas which have come to light since Seenger's death. Such are three drawings of Budapest by J. V. Reim, part of a set purchased for the National Museum Historical Gallery in 1982, which Seenger could not have known. Around 1840, Franz Pracher of Linz, who was working in Pest, made a colour lithograph of Pest-Buda from Rózsadomb for the workshop of Miklós Szerelmey. The view of Budapest it depicts has been one of the most popular since the late 18th century. The present author first saw a copy of this print in the 1970s in the ownership of a Hungarian-born London collector, and the Hungarian Historical Gallery has since also acquired a copy. On the other hand, a misprint or misunderstanding must be behind the omission of a splendid full-figure portrait of Palatine József by Miklós Barabás. This picture was ordered by Ágoston Kubinyi for the National Museum in 1846, but only transferred to its present location, the Historical Gallery, in 1890. The detail of Pest in the background, with the highlighted museum building, may be regarded as an attribute of the subject.

      1. György Rózsa: Budapest régi látképei. Budapest, 1963; Second edition. Budapest, 1999.

      2. György Rózsa: Seenger Ervin. In: Magyar múzeumi arcképcsarnok. Eds. S. Bodó and Gy. Viga. Budapest, 2002, 783. It should be noted that the manuscript of the paper A pesti oldal vedutái was not published.

      3. On vedutas in general: Max Schefold: Bibliographie der Vedute. Berlin 1986 ; Jerzy Banach: Einführung in die Erforschung ikonographischer Quellen zur Baugeschichte und Urbanistik. In: Lüneburger Beiträge zur Vedutenforschung. Lüneburg 2001,11-19; György Rózsa: Die Typologie als Methode der Bearbeitung alter ungarischen Veduten. In: Lüneburger Beiträge. Band II. Lüneburg 2003, 45-52; On the Hungarian aspect, very important is Béla Szalai: Magyar várak , városok, falvak metszeteken. 1515-1800 vol. I. A mai Magyarország; - Kiegészítések I. Budapest, 2003.

      4. E. Seenger: Rózsa György: Budapest régi látképei. Ismertetés. In: Acta Historiae Artium X (1964) 213-214.

      5. Teréz Gerszi: A magyar kőrajzolás története. Budapest 1960. 214, no. 48.

      6 Ingo Nebehay - Robert Wagner: Bibliographie altösterreichischer Ansichtenwerke. Band 1-6. Wien, 1981-1991, Nr. 584; Ruthner Bd .2/1,44, 45, 39

      7. György Rózsa: Johann Vinzenz Reim és Magyarország. In: Folia Historica 11 (1983) 1983, 74-75.

      8 Új szerzemények a Magyar Nemzeti Múzeumban, Budapest, 2000, 31.

      9. Imre Fejős: A Nemzeti Múzeum ábrázolásai. In: Folia Archaeologica VII (1955), no. 17