One of the benefits of having so many wealthy, well-connected and traveled bishops of Eger was that they generally had exceptional taste and lots of money.
Hence the fantastic Baroque architecture in the city bankrolled by wealthy churchmen. We also have the riches of the Church to thank for the many fine pictures that fill the walls of the Eger Castle Art Gallery.
The Heroines of Eger: Bertalan Székely
Unbelievable as it may seem, this gallery could have been the finest in Hungary had it not been for an ill-thought out and hasty decision: the story goes that the Archbishop of Eger, János László Pyrker (1826-48), wished to leave his unrivaled collection of Old Masters to the city.
The town council of the time, however, took the decision to reject his offer as they felt Eger didn't have the space to accommodate such a large and fine collection. So Pyrker's collection went to Budapest where it forms the basis of the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum (Hungarian National Museum).
Eger Art Gallery - a collection of quality and breadth
It wasn't until 1872 that an art gallery was founded in Eger by Archbishop Béla Bartakovics. It was initially housed in the Lyceum and gradually grew as pictures were added over the years: Canon László Aszalay, Flóris Bartakovics, Bishop Endre Pánthy, Archbishop Josef Samassa and the painter, Mihály Kovács all either gifted or bequeathed pictures.
In 1950 the collection moved from the Lyceum to its current home in the Isván Dobó Castle Museum. Today visitors can see European paintings from the 16th to 18th century and Hungarian works from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Despite losing Archbishop Pyrker's collection to Budapest the Eger Castle Gallery's collection is not to be sniffed at, containing as it does many fine works.
Artists represented include the Italians Battistello, Giacomo Ceruti, Ginlio Carponi and Cesare Fracansanon and the Dutch Frederick van Valkenborch, Theodor van Thulden and Pieter van Lint.
Hendrick Ter Brugghen's Boy Lighting a Pipe
Notable paintings include: Dosso Dossi's Faun and Nymph, Felice Brusasorci's The Mourning of Christ and Hendrick Ter Brugghen's Boy Lighting a Pipe (above).
Also worth a look is the room dedicated to Italian artists like Battistello, Antiveduto Grammatica Giacomo Ceruti and Giulio Cesare Carpione and another displaying the work of the disciples of Caravaggio based in Utrecht.