Gyula Andrássy Foundation

IN EFFIGIE – Exhibition for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Gyula Andrássy in Betlér

The Andrássy Museum in Betliar organized a temporary exhibition about Gyula Andrássy, entitled IN EFFIGIE – a story about the life of Count Gyula Andrássy, the greatest Hungarian European.

The exhibition opening was held on June 15, 2023 and chairman Mark Odescalchi was invited to give a speech representing the Foundation and the Andrássy descendants. Below is his speech:

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the direct descendants of Count Gyula Andrássy and the Gyula Andrássy Foundation I would like to thank you for the honour of being invited to speak at the opening of this Exhibition in the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Gyula Andrássy having been a revolutionary against the Habsburgs in 1848 spent 8 years in exile in Paris and London. This gave him time to develop a perspective as to how to unite rather than divide people and how to learn from the development of the societies and the economies in these two great cities. In Paris he had an example of how a city can be planned and remodelled. He was to implement this when he instigated the competition for an urban city plan for Pest in the 1870s which resulted in the creation of a European metropolis.

Learning and drawing inspiration from the most advanced initiatives on an international level, – which in the 19th century meant primarily Wester Europe – was part of family tradition. His uncle, György Andrássy was a great friend of István Széchenyi. These two travelled to London on many occasions to learn from the example of the industrial revolution in Britain. Széchenyi considered the young nephew of his friend a protégé with the potential for a great future. Indeed, Gyula Andrássy was aware of the reform ideas of his uncle and illustrious friend and took them further, built on them once he became Prime Minister of Hungary in 1867. During his time in office, he had a crucial role in shaping the political landscape. He advocated for modernization and development and believed in the principles of constitutionalism and liberalism.

It was Andrássy’s role as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy that propelled him into the international spotlight. His diplomatic skills and pragmatic attitude were instrumental in balancing between Prussia and Russia. Aiming to maintain peace and stability, he navigated the complex European geopolitical landscape with confidence and wit. His skills and attitude earned him respect and recognition from his counterparts. A key element of his diplomacy was the initiation of the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the commemoration of which can be seen in the painting here. This exhibition gives a much more detailed overview of Andrássy’s profile, both as a politician and a private person, so there is no need to describe him further to you now. As representative of the family and the Foundation I welcome this initiative, because it is in line with our mission.

The Gyula Andrássy Foundation was founded in 2005, by my father, Paul Odescalchi, the great grandson of Gyula Andrássy, to promote Andrássy’s historic, cultural, and political legacy which had been airbrushed from history during the Communist era. Recovering and making public the cultural heritage of the family is a primary goal of the Foundation.

This is a good opportunity for me to explain the co-operation that has developed over the past 4 to 5 years between the Foundation and our partners in Slovakia: The Slovak State Archives and the Slovak National Museum – Museum Betliar. In 2018 the Andrássy Gyula Foundation received an exclusive contract from the Slovak Interior Ministry to digitise the Andrássy Archive. The archive contains documents from the period between 1290-1948 and was originally located in Krasna Horka Castle, Betliar and other family properties. To date we digitized approximately half this enormous archive which comprises more than 1,200 boxes. Our partnership with the Museum Betliar covers the digitization of the archival photographs in the collection of the museum with the latest imaging technology available.

Among the archival material we have found letters between György Andrássy and István Széchenyi illustrating the relationship I have just mentioned, also many medieval manuscripts and other documents and letters covering a wide range of topics and period. The vast collection of photograph albums and individual photos from the 19th century comprises professional portraits but also many pictures were taken by members of the family, offering an intimate, insider view of aristocratic life in and around Betliar and the world.

I am happy to report, for the first time in public, that according to our calculations the Foundation will complete this unique digitization project during the course of next year.

Processing the archival documents will continue afterwards, and we expect to uncover many more interesting documents and photographs which may help to enhance our understanding of the role of the family and – like this exhibition – in particular the life and achievements of its most illustrious member, Count Gyula Andrássy.

It is a good opportunity to meet with many of you here at this stimulating exhibition which amply demonstrates that co-operation on the basis of mutual respect by those who study art and history may lead to a better understanding between neighbours.  We are now members of the same European community, the European Union, in which we have new opportunities to explore our shared cultural heritage. I am sure Count Andrássy would be pleased with this direction, and no doubt many Slovak patriots of the 19th century would agree with this conclusion. Once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me here today, wish you the best of success with the exhibition and look forward to cooperation in the future.

Betlér/Betliar (Slovakia), June 15, 2023.