2013/3–4 (22)

Special Issue ʻStudying Medieval and Early Modern Art in Soviet Estonia. Mai Lumiste 80ʼ
Edited by Anneli Randla

Anneli Randla. Mai Lumiste and the Study of Art History
7–13; >Summary 14–16<

The historiography of Estonian art history is an emerging subject. Here an introduction is provided to the articles in this volume dealing with different aspects of the legacy of Soviet art history writing and the role Mai Lumiste played in it. The second part of the article gives an overview of Lumiste’s research, with special regard to her interdisciplinary position between art history and conservation, studying subjects from panel painting to architecture. The question of Lumiste as a pioneer of technical art history is also posed.


Kersti Markus.
The Object and Its Interpretation: The Research Methods of Medieval Architecture in the Estonian SSR
17–33; >Summary 34–41<

The article views art historical writing both in the context of its time and in its later reception. While in the 1950s and 1960s the scholars at the University of Tartu continued using methods that had been practiced before the war (motif analysis, and building archaeology and archival research), the 1970s can be considered a time of innovations. Social history and studies of function arose along with the analysis of style. Scholars educated in Leningrad or scholars that entered the field through interdisciplinary research were at the forefront of the innovations. In the 1980s stylistic analysis combined with building archeology became the most prominent method of research, remaining dominant in the following decades. The author claims that the personalities of charismatic researchers were behind the choice of method, their role being particularly significant within a closed society.

Krista Kodres. Writing the Renaissance: Mai Lumiste and the Soviet Art History Discourse
42–59; >Summary 60–64<

The article deals with Mai Lumiste’s ways of constructing the Renaissance. This is ideology and discourse critical approach with the aim to observe how the established disciplinary methods and approaches, and Marxist-Leninist ideology caused and shaped the art historical interpretations of Lumiste in the post-Stalinist Estonian SSR. Lumiste created the local Renaissance on the basis of the idea of correlation between society and art. In the Renaissance as defined by Lumiste are important: 1. societal level, characterised by secularisation and humanism; 2. stylistic level, measured by the realistic way of depiction; 3. development level, which stresses the continuous regional evolution of the style; 4. national level, which constructs arguments for the verification of the national character of the Renaissance art production. In conclusion, Lumiste revised the established discourse of the Renaissance, writing the style into a grander and more important, more social and national notion.

Kerttu Palginõmm. Mai Lumiste und der Problemkreis des Schaffens des Meisters der Lucialegende
65–92; >Summary 93–95<

Der Artikel konzentriert sich auf die Rolle von Mai Lumiste als die erste Attribuiererin des Marienaltars der Bruderschaft der Schwarzhäupter in Reval (Tallinn). Es wird auf den Unterschied in der Verfahrensweise von Mai Lumiste zur Attribuierung in der Tradition von Max J. Friedländer verwiesen und aufgezeigt, wie der Meister der Lucialegende als ein möglicher Urheber des Revaler Altargemäldes Form annahm. Aufmerksamkeit wird neueren Angaben in Verbindung mit denjenigen Werken geschenkt, die dem Meister der Lucialegende zugeschrieben werden und die als Folge auch geänderte Auffassungen über das Marienretabel mit sich bringen. Es wird die Notwendigkeit von technischen Untersuchungen hervorgehoben und es werden erste Schritte bei der Behandlung dieses Themas unternommen.

Krista Andreson. Research on Tallinn’s Dance of Death and Mai Lumiste – Questions and Possibilities in the 20th Century
96–109; >Summary 110–114<

The aim of this article is to focus on the role of Mai Lumiste in the history of researching Tallinn’s Dance of Death, her points of departure, and those of her predecessors, and their methodological bases. When speaking of Lumiste’s contribution, the emphasis has always been on the fact that her positions were based on the technical studies conducted in Moscow between 1962 and 1965, which made the style assessment and iconographic analysis of the work possible for the first time. The literature also reflects the opinion that this research in Moscow confirmed the position that had been accepted until that time, i.e. that the author of the work was Bernt Notke. The following survey focuses on which positions formulated at that time were established on the basis of technical research and which issues still remain unresolved.

Anu Mänd, Alar Nurkse. Family Ties and the Commissioning of Art: On the Donors and Overpaintings of the Netherlandish Passion Altarpiece
115–148; >Summary 149–152<

The article reviews the studies of Mai Lumiste of the Netherlandish Passion Altarpiece in Tallinn. Then the social and liturgical context of the altarpiece is discussed, with a special focus on the commissioners of later overpaintings. The questions to be addressed are: Would the original iconographic programme with four Franciscan saints have suited the context of late medieval Tallinn? Which altar in Tallinn was the overpainted altarpiece meant for? Who were Lippe and Grest, and what was the connection between them? How did the altarpiece become a possession of Urban Dene? What was the connection between Dene and Bock? When and why were their figures overpainted? What can recent technical studies reveal about the coats of arms and donors found beneath the visible ones? All this is relevant for an understanding of the role of family ties and personal networks in the commissioning of art in the late medieval and the early modern eras, as well as for a better understanding of the nature of changes made to this altarpiece over the centuries.

Merike Kurisoo. Patching Together a Thousand Pieces. Tombstones of Tallinn’s St Nicholas’ Church: History, Restoration and Layout in the Exposition of the Niguliste Museum in the 1970s
153–176; >Summary 177–181<

This article is dedicated to the questions of conservation and exposition of tombstones in Tallinn’s St Nicholas’ Church undertaken under the guidance of the art historian Mai Lumiste in the 1970s. The restoration of these grave markers is analysed in the wider context of conservation methods and practices in Soviet Estonia. In addition, the article addresses the issues of the conservation and exposition of tombstones in other churches in Tallinn. An overview of the history of and research on these grave markers is provided, including their fate and reception before the conservation work in the 1970s.

Oliver Orro. Mai Lumiste as a Researcher of Kadriorg and Kadriorg as a Research Subject in Estonian Art History
182–201; >Summary 202–204<

Mai Lumiste was a versatile and very capable art historian who took an interest in a variety of different subjects, including one of the central pieces of Estonian baroque architecture: the Kadriorg palace and park ensemble. This article takes a look at the attention paid to Kadriorg in Estonian art history and Lumiste’s important role as a researcher of Kadriorg, as well as the specifics of writing about architectural history during Soviet times. To generalise further, it can be said that the way in which Mai Lumiste wrote about Kadriorg and the way Estonian art historians in general wrote about older architecture between the 1960s and the 1980s serves as a telling example of the intellectuals’ survival and self-expression strategy in a totalitarian state.


Bibliography of Mai Lumiste


Helena Risthein. Notes on St Petersburg Academy of Arts
213–223; >Summary 224–226<

In the Soviet era, several Estonian art historians graduated from the St Petersburg Academy of Arts (then the I. E. Repin Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture). My notes offer an overview of the study of art history at this institution in the 1970s and provide a list of Estonian art historians who studied there in the Soviet times.


Kaur Alttoa.
Ühest kadunud(?) käsikirjast