Monet, Gauguin, Szinyei Merse, Rippl-Rónai

- 28 June 2013 - 24 November 2013



Impressionist artworks from three collections together in one grand-scale exhibition. From the end of June, masterpieces from the collections of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest will be on display in the Hungarian National Gallery. Visitors will have an opportunity to view paintings by French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists alongside outstanding works by the most important Hungarian painters of the period.

Cooperation between Jerusalem’s Israel Museum and Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts is not new. In the summer of 2009 Budapest organized an exhibition The Heritage of the Holy Land presenting works from the Israel Museum, while a selection of Hungarian prints and drawings was shown in Israel. The exhibition Monet, Gauguin, Szinyei Merse, Rippl-Rónai represents the latest major stage in the professional and institutional relationship between the two countries.

Dubbed Impressionism in 1874, this artistic movement took shape in the 1860s in primarily French artistic circles. Artists saw the world in a new way. Grand themes and complicated compositions bearing serious messages were abandoned in favour of simpler events from everyday life, a fresher approach to nature, and a fascination with ever-changing light. Such a shift took place in Hungarian art, too, with Hungarian artists making significant contributions to this new, general trend in European art. In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from foreign and domestic collections could be seen regularly in exhibitions in Budapest. The Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts, which opened in 1906, worked steadily on building its Impressionist collection until the First World War. One of the French works displayed in this exhibition played an interesting role in the history of art collecting in Hungary. Alfred Sisley’s work Banks of the Loing – Autumn Effect, made in 1881, was originally purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest from Paul Durand-Ruel, famous French art dealer, in 1907. Later in 1916 this work was exchanged for Manet’s masterpiece Woman with a Fan, from the collection of Kurt Walter Bachstitz of Berlin. The painting arrived in Jerusalem as a part of restitution to Israel, and now nearly 100 years later, is on display again in Budapest.

Between 1874 and 1886 the Impressionists displayed their works in eight joint exhibitions in Paris’s most frequented and most fashionable locales. In 1877 they collectively adopted the name Impressionists. In 1886, the year of the last Impressionist exhibition, the movement was no longer unified. Those artists later dubbed Post-Impressionists had begun their careers inspired by the Impressionists, but later they chose to go beyond capturing the momentary impression, and strove to create paintings that were more introspective, more substantial.

Impressionism lived on into the early decades of the 20th century in the work of Monet, Renoir and Degas, and had a powerful impact on European and American art. The French influence played an important role in the development of modern painting trends in other European countries and in Hungary, too. Up to the 1860s Hungarian artists rarely made it to Paris. Beginning in the 1870s, however, in some places and in some forms, Hungarian paintings demonstrated the new attitude toward nature. Szolnok, from the middle of the 19th century, was a favorite locale of numerous Austrian and Hungarian painters. Artists visiting the area captured the unique atmosphere of the town, the colours of the bustling market place. The landscapes made in Szolnok were among the valuable early creations of Hungarian plein-air painting. This period also saw the first compositions dealing with the Hungarian Great Plains, a subject that became dominant in Hungarian painting. The artists of the circle of the painter Simon Hollósy in Munich, following in the footsteps of Pál Szinyei Merse, returned to Hungary, and in 1896 formed the artists’ colony of Nagybánya (now Baia Mare in Romania). The united efforts of the Nagybánya painters were a counterpoint to the influence of the academy and other official artistic institutions. With their paintings created under the open sky and saturated with sunlight, the painters of Nagybánya undertook to modernize the formal language of painting. As their style matured, they moved from Naturalism to plein-air and Impressionism.

Considered the most French of Hungarian artists, József Rippl-Rónai was among the few Hungarian painters who was able to fully integrate into the important artists’ circles of his French colleagues. Because of his similar artistic efforts Rippl-Rónai drew the attention of Denis, Bonnard, Sérusier, whom he had met at the Julian Academy, and later Vuillard and their associates and was invited to exhibition with the Nabis (Prophets), who followed in the footsteps of Gauguin.

Our exhibition presents an exceptional and unique opportunity to see the paintings of such outstanding artists of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, such as Pissarro, Monet, Degas, Renoir, or Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh alongside works by their Hungarian contemporaries. The best known paintings of Pál Szinyei Merse, Károly Ferenczy, János Vaszary, Adolf Fényes, László Mednyánszky, and József Rippl-Rónai have never before been seen in such a rich international context.

Our exhibition catalogue is published in both Hungarian and English. To help viewers understand the most significant works, a Hungarian and English language audio guide is also available. For children we have a special audio guide, as well as a family guide and an Impressionist colouring book.

The curators of the exhibition are art historians Mariann Gergely and Edit Plesznivy. The exhibition’s primary sponsor is MOL.

Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterworks from the Collections of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, the Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest Hungarian National Gallery
28 June – 13 October 2013

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