On the trail of (re)discovering the heritage of Slavonian nobility the heritage institutions of Osijek and Valpovo are presenting an exhibition project – Valpovo nobility Prandau-Normann – by putting on display valuable museum and archival documentation of the families Hilleprand von Prandau and von Normann-Ehrenfels. The Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Slavonia, the State Archives and the Regional Museum of Valpovo are showcasing archival materials of the Valpovo nobility kept in numerous collections organized by the following topics: The art heritage of the Prandau-Normann family, The noble Prandau-Normann family of Valpovo – bibliophiles, collectors and donors, The archival heritage of the Valpovo nobility, Everyday life.
For 164 years the Valpovo manor, i.e. property, was managed by the family Hillerprand von Prandau who were succeeded by the von Normann-Ehrenfels who managed it until its confiscation in 1945. The family Hilleprand von Prandau undertook a variety of property improvement activities on the manor. This meant changing the property organization in order to improve its functioning and economic activities.
The family Normann-Ehrenfels took over the property and continued maintaining it over the last decades of its existence.
Both families endeavoured to invest part of their incomes in the promotion of education in the Valpovo area. In the beginning of the 19th century the familiy Hilleprand von Prandau had invested part of their manorial incomes into the building of the theatre and took care of its maintenance expenses until the middle of the century. Through their activities over the course of more than two centuries both families enabled social, cultural,educational and economic development of the Valpovo region. The museological concept of these exhibitions in an exhibition, with clearly defined thematic-content units, also contains a common implementation through a single introductory legend and the design of the layout itself. The rich materials from the Valpovo noble families, of artistic, archival, construction, numismatic, cultural-historical, library, and music nature, will be presented to the public for the first time in this manner, through the exhibition and the catalogue, and illustrate an extraordinary segment of our cultural heritage.
The catalogue is organised to follow the thematic units of the exhibition and the texts have been authored by the employees of the heritage institutions, but also by experts from related scientific institutions, who are specialised in the specific areas of study. The catalogue section includes six hundred exhibit pieces and follows the design layouts of the State Archives in Osijek, the Museum of Slavonia, the Museum of Fine Arts,
and the Regional Museum of Valpovo.
For its section of participation in this four facet exhibition, the State Archives in Osijek reveals a selection of documents and other records from its holdings that comprise the archival fonds of the Valpovo Estate in the period from 1727 to 1945.
The archival fonds of the Valpovo Estate includes only a part of the archival materials that were created during the life and work of the noble families Hilleprand von Prandau and von Normann-Ehrenfels. It is one of the rare archival fonds the materials from which, though only partly preserved, vividly depict the organisation, administration, and activities of the estates in the wider region, and the life and work of the nobility and their subjects in Eastern Croatia, during the period from the beginning of the 18th century until 1945. The coats of arms from the archival fonds of the Valpovo Estate are a part of the long history of using coats of arms. Natural abundance, limited area, human potential, landowning and vassalage rights, regulated relationships, and peaceful cohabitation made the estate into a place where economic assets grew and society developed through history. In secular and religious circles, in Valpovo and the Valpovo region, in Osijek and Slavonia, in Zagreb and elsewhere in Croatia, in Vienna and all over the Monarchy, the members of the Hilleprand von Prandau and von Normann-Ehrenfels families were active in all of those places, and received prominent positions and functions, offices and significance. Some traces of that significance were preserved in these honorary diplomas.
The Museum of Slavonia keeps numerous objects of valuable family heritage in their History Department, Artistic Crafts Department, Numismatics Department, Ethnography Department, and the Library Department, and their members can truly be called bibliophiles, collectors, and donors. The preserved heritage of the Prandau-Normann family at the Museum of Slavonia speaks to us today about the life and habits of the owners of the Valpovo Estate, their interests, social leanings, by painting the life in this area over a period of more than two centuries. One of the most valuable preserved libraries in our country, with over ten thousand bibliographic units, and music materials, mostly hand-written, the numismatic collection donated by Count Rudolf von Normann-Ehrenfels to the then City Museum, ethnographic materials, exceptional cartography collection, artistic crafts objects: furniture, decorative items, photographs, paintings, documentary material… are all a part of the rich treasury of Valpovo nobility kept at the Museum of Slavonia and presented to the public for the first time in this manner.
The segment of the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Osijek presents the fine arts heritage of the Valpovo nobility, a private family collection, which had been located in the Valpovo castle. Their example was used in the exhibition to demonstrate the lifestyle of a wealthy noble family that lead an opulent lifestyle in the context of a small local community.
Thanks to the several generations of the family, the exhibition of the fine arts heritage at the Museum of Fine Arts features the works by foreign authors Johann Michael Rottmayr, Ephraim Hochhauser, Johann Anton Zitterer, Friedrich Amerling, Carl Rahl, but also domestic artists Josip Franjo Mücke, Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf, Bela Cikoš Sesija, Vladimir Becic, Joso Bužan, Mencije Klement Crncic, Mato Celestin Medovic, and Dragan Melkus.
The Regional Museum of Valpovo is located in the former family residence of the Valpovo nobility, the Baroque castle Prandau-Normann, in the centre of Valpovo. The families of the barons Hilleprand von Prandau and counts von Norman Ehrenfels were in the possession of the castle – fort from 1721 to 1945. During those two and a half centuries, the estate dictated the entire cultural life of Valpovo, but also of Slavonia and Baranja. The Museum today keeps a valuable collection from the heritage of the noble families. Considering that the Regional Museum of Valpovo is located in the family home, the heritage has been presented in an authentic ambience. The objects from the inventory of the castle tell us about the preferences and the lifestyle of the family that was surrounded by them every day. Today, the objects are demonstrating the wealth and the refined taste of the family members, but also the organisation of the household. The exhibition presents a porcelain collection, a glassware collection, a silverware collection, and several items of furniture. The holdings of the Valpovo museum also include works of fine art: miniatures on ivory, oils on canvas, aquarelles, copper-plate etchings and copper-plate engravings, and lithographs by famous authors. We are also presenting a valuable collection of old photographs from the family heritage. The authors of those photographs are world-famous photographers from the period when photography was in its infancy.
The exhibition and the catalogue have been realised with the financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the City of Osijek, and the Osijek-Baranja County.