Mihály Munkácsy and the Realism of the Fin-de-siècle

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Mihály Munkácsy and the Realism of the Fin-de-siècle

Building B, 1st Floor - Permanent Exhibition

The œuvre of Mihály Munkácsy is presented in a separate line of rooms along with the art of Hungarian painters of realist tendencies, following in his footsteps.

The audience can see Munkácsy’s career from early on, starting with the rural landscape and genre paintings he created at the Vienna, Munich and later at the Dusseldorf Academies, such as Storm at the Puszta with its gloomy colours. His line of works is continued by his epic realist paintings, which were hugely successful in Paris and his salon paintings rendering the bourgeois milieu. Among others, Munkácsy’s early realism is represented by his first major work, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, for which he was awarded with a Gold Medal at the Paris Salon, and Making Lint, which he also created in Dusseldorf. In this room, the landscape paintings of Munkácsy’s artist friend László Paál, who died at an early age, are displayed, such as the Road in the Fontainebleau Forest. Paál painted most of his works at Barbizon, near Fontainebleau.

In the second half of Munkácsy’s œuvre, the rural genre paintings are replaced by depictions of struggling men fighting death and illness (Milton, Death of Mozart) and salon paintings showing elegant interiors from the same period, eternalizing the carefree life of the bourgeoisie with a rich and varied palette.

The last two rooms of this section feature the works of artists following the tradition of Munkácsy: on the one hand, visitors are introduced to Munkácsy’s contemporaries who followed the similar path of Munich and Paris (Géza Mészöly, Lajos Deák Ébner), while on the other hand, one can find canvases of the young generation of artists following Munkácsy’s style who worked mostly on the Great Hungarian Plain, depicting the everyday lives of villages and small towns.

Zsuzsanna Bakó
András Zwickl

Highlights, curiosities

Baron László Mednyánszky: Countryside at Munkács [Mukačevo], (Watering), 1891

László Mednyánszky painted this picture during his visit to the environs of Munkács (today Mukačevo in Ukraine) when making landscape sketches for his cyclorama titled The Arrival of the Hungarians. In his landscapes, Mednyánszky’s focus was not on detail and close-up views; instead, he painted sweeping depictions of nature in an attempt to create harmony between earth and sky. This work fits in with the thematic scope of late-19th century naturalism.

László Paál: Noon, 1870

László Paál made this picture during an extended study trip in the Netherlands, painting the motif before him fast. The elements of the customary visual framing of the landscape depicted in the noon sun were rendered with sketchy brushstrokes; the composition is composed of patches of succinct forms.

Mihály Munkácsy: Dusty Road II, after 1874

Munkácsy made this painting in 1874, when he visited Békéscsaba, a town that played an important part in his life. It transpired from letters written by his wife that he was working on two landscapes at the time. His Dusty Road II features the characteristic motifs of the Hungarian Great Plains in light diffused by stirred-up dust. The atmospheric effects in this plen-air painting are unique in Munkácsy’s art: no similar compositions can be found among his later landscapes.

Mihály Munkácsy and the Realism of the Fin-de-siècle

Permanent Exhibition

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