Paradise Lost II.
Collection of Sculptures
As a new thematic unit at our permanent exhibition, we present white marble statues that exemplify types of nude representation, made during the period from the turn of the last century to the 1920s.
At around 1890, monument sculpture was still marked by a historicizing eclecticism, while portraiture, genre compositions and medal art already embraced naturalism and art nouveau.
The organic execution of the respective works of Miklós Ligeti and Szilárd Sződy at our exhibit bears testimony to the influence of Rodin, from whom the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest already purchased works at around 1900. By contrast, József Róna, a sculptor of Historicism, following his antiquating nudes (Female Nude with Palm), created realistic figures with classical subjects in the new baroque vein (Adam and Eve).
Ödön Moiret’s statue from the 1910s reinterprets the figure of Venus, the birth of the goddess of love. Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl modelled a symbolic representation of Morning in the early 1920s. It was at that time that Fülöp Beck Ö. depicted a key scene from the origin myth of the Magyars in his work, Emese’s Dream.
Ödön Moiret broke with the traditional representation of Aphrodite rising from the sea, showing a triumphant goddess standing in a seashell, which had persisted since Botticelli. His Aphrodite has just awoken and is stretching, as if seen at the moment of her birth. The naturalistic depiction of the body is made more subtle by the Secessionist, stylised hair, seashell and water. It is, however, the composition itself that is the most unusual, since there are barely any examples in art history of a crouching Venus.
At the turn of the century, Miklós Ligeti was regarded as the foremost Hungarian follower of Rodin. Indeed, at the French master's debut exhibition in Budapest in 1907 in the National Salon, the display of his graphics was complemented with Ligeti’s sculptures. In his work titled Eve, the smooth, exquisite figure of a female nude arises from the face of an irregular, rough marble block.
Kisfaludy carved the small-scale version of what is known as “the Hungarian Venus” in 1924. After a reproduction of his work was published in the English language periodical titled Studio, William Randolph Hearst, the head of the largest media company in the USA, commissioned the artist to make a life-size version of the sculpture. The second copy of this can be viewed at our exhibition. The solemn figure of the nude is lent intimacy by the genre-like depiction capturing her in the act of combing her hair.