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Hungarian Treasures from Budapest – Royal Academy of Arts

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Hungarian treasures from Budapest at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Wednesday, 29th September 2010 – David Franchi

It is a really amazing exhibition “Treasures from Budapest” featuring over 200 works, many of which have never been exposed in the UK.

 It is an exhibition of many important artists from Renaissance to contemporary time.

The works show, likewise in the original presentation, the artistic interchange between Hungary and the rest of Europe.

Besides the history of Museum of Fine Arts is bound up with the one of Hungary.

Treasures from Budapest”  is chronologically ordered starting from Renaissance to Modern and Contemporary Art.

At the Royal Academy of Arts it is possible to see some of the most important Hungarian – or related to Hungary – artists from Renaissance to the twentieth century. The exhibition brings together works from both Museum of Fine Arts of Budapest, with additional key loans from the Hungarian National Gallery. Many masterpieces are on display and the list of artists is so long from Maso di Bianco and Jacopo del Sellaio, to Vaszary, Rippl-Ronai and Ferenczy, to Doré and Delacroix, but also Perugino and Leonardo da Vinci and Luca Signorelli, or Van Dyck and Canaletto and, yes, John Constable and many others. Really a must to be seen.

The presentation of works is intended, as the original one, to show the interchange of artistic ideas it has existed between Hungary and other parts of Europe across the centuries.

Furthermore the Museum history itself is strongly bound up with that complicated of Hungary: a site of many religious and political conflicts between different nations.

So Hungary was subject to a wide range of external artistic influences and this gave the opportunity to blend styles and swap artistic practices between Hungary and different parts of Europe.

Subsequently the organisation of “Treasures from Budapest”  is chronologically ordered. The show starts with a first section about the Renaissance period displaying Historical Art in Hungary. Here there is a significant St. Andrew Altarpiece surrounded by paintings of Italian artists.

The second section is about Sacred Art of Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century with still a strong presence of Italian artists, above all fine Tintoretto.

The theme of the third section, where the works to be highlighted are the ones of El Greco, is Sacred Art After Reformation. In the sixteenth century this kind of art should be seen also, respectively of the great changes due to the religious movement and the later Catholic Counter- Reformation. Sacred art was much influenced by the commissions coming from religious institutions but Protestant deliberately avoided the use of imagery in the church.

This part of the collection – the first three sections – reflects the prevailing taste for Italian art above all else.

Then we move to a section about Renaissance revival of interest in the classical world. Greek and Roman Mythology and Ancient History Paintings were considered, at that time, the highest form of art. Again a remarkable Tintoretto is to be noticed here.

Next section, Sacred Art in the Baroque. This form of art tried to reach people through their senses and emotions as well as their intellect.

But it is in the section of Collecting Old Master Drawings that there are really notably drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello in between famous others.

Portraiture section, the seventh one, gives us the idea that portraits were commissioned from their sitters, or their families and friends, and were displayed in royal and noble houses to celebrate the dynasty of the family.

These last three sections are the results of the purchasing of Nikolaus II Esterhàzy, the greatest collector of the family, whose devotion for art could bring to these results.

In the eighth section there are on display works of Still- life and Genres scenes, considered at that time more bourgeois form of arts but much appreciated because of the dissimilarity between it and the great themes of religious and mythological art. Works of Benedetti, Claesz and Koets are to be highlighted here.

Then a second section is dedicated to Collecting of Old Master Drawings. By the seventeenth century Old Master drawing were fully established as marketable properties, here outstandingly shown are some Tiepolo and Rubens.

The following Landscape section deal with a seventeenth century topic, related to idealizing Italian landscape through the works of celebrated artists like Villa, Canaletto and Bellotto.

In 1873 through the unification of the cities of Buda and Obuda on the west bank of Danube and Pest on the east bank, Budapest was created. Budapest was one of the fastest- growing cities in the nineteenth century. So, the next to last section displays work about Collecting Modern Art in the New City of Budapest. The Museum of Fine Arts was opened in 1906 with the aim of preserving and displaying the national collection of historical art.

The museum was also created with the intention to encourage the creation of contemporary Hungarian art and represents the major recent movement in Europe such like Realism, Symbolism and Impressionism. Strongly were the connections with Paris.

In the last section it is possible to find works of the Modern and Contemporary Art in the twentieth century, such as Picasso, but also a superb piece of Egon Schiele (Two women embracing) which gives to the all exhibition a special hint.

Here in this section it is also explained that the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts was totally revolutionised by its second director Elek Petrovics who transformed the entire collection and putted together up the patrimony of contemporary Hungarian arts.

Treasures from Budapest”  is not an end in itself: it is also possible to take part of other related events, like workshops and lectures.

Treasures from Budapest” is so clear and so well organized that it is very easy to understand and follow the superb works displayed. Not to be missed for an artistic digression from Renaissance to contemporary Hungary.

Internet details: www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/budapest

Published for:  www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3245:-hungarian-treasures-at-the-royal-academy-of-arts&catid=53:artsarte&Itemid=214

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Written by davidfranchi

November 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm

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