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It’s beautiful springtime!
We all know the nice feeling of sunshine caressing our skin after a dark and cold winter. The flower-scented, gentle breeze of spring dancing through the flood of light: what ethereal delight! Chirping birds, budding trees, nature in bloom – new life springing up all around, ecstatically proclaiming the joy and beauty of living.
- János Vaszary: The Return of Spring, 1899
- Károly Ferenczy: The Woman Painter, 1903
- László Mednyánszky: Spring Hillside, first half of the 1890s
- Károly Lotz: Portrait of Ilona Korongi Lippich, 1894
- Pál Szinyei Merse: Picnic in May, 1873
- Arnold Böcklin: Spring Evening, 1879
- Auguste Rodin: Eternal Springtime, 1901
János Vaszary: The Return of Spring, 1899
Spring has returned. What a beautiful feeling! János Vaszary’s stretching model could equally be a woman partaking in a fertility rite in ancient Rome, Eve delighting in the joys of paradise or an allegory of spring advocating the revival of nature. The frame designed by the artist is a seamless continuation of the canvas with its organically meandering, lush forms further enhancing the sensuality exuded by the picture.
Károly Ferenczy: The Woman Painter, 1903
The Woman Painter is one of the stunning pieces among Károly Ferenczy’s “sunny” paintings. The artist drew its theme from the everyday reality of Nagybánya: the pupils of his free school regularly painted in the open air in various locations of the town. The sight of fledgling artists formed an integral part of the urban landscape, so much so that the locals often joined in the creative pursuits. We even know the name of the model of this painting: she is Ilon (nickname for Helen), a miner’s wife, who would often model for the artists. The slanting shadow of the tree trunks and the bands shot through with sunlight provide the compositional pillars of this work. The woman wearing a painter’s apron, a frilly blue dress and a straw hat is in the centre of the interplay of green lights, while the green and violet tones of the painting recur on the palette in her left hand. This piece presents this simple but rewarding subject with fresh immediacy and light-hearted simplicity.
László Mednyánszky: Spring Hillside, first half of the 1890s
László Mednyánszky was apparently captivated by the impression of the landscape; this is manifest in the broad and energetic brushstrokes, which can only be viewed as a whole from a distance. This composition with its trees in blossom, tender green grass and vibrant blue sky emanates a truly spring atmosphere abounding in life.
Károly Lotz: Portrait of Ilona Korongi Lippich, 1894
Károly Lotz was a foremost representative of Hungarian mural and (female) portrait painting. His talent, creativity and masterly skills were equally manifest in his figural, nude, landscape and animal depictions. This exquisite portrait perfectly conveys the delicate figure of the woman it depicts. We can virtually feel the soft material of her dress, smell the fragrance of the flowers in the meadow and can imagine the fresh air on our face. But one wonders where the lustre of her eyes has descended?
Pál Szinyei Merse: Picnic in May, 1873
Of course, the eternal classic, Pál Szinyei Merse’s Picnic of May, cannot be omitted from our spring selection. It is so vibrant with colour and freshness, so captivating through the harmony of the green field set alight by the dazzling sunlight, the blue sky, the company of six in the shade, their clothes and the random patches of sunshine. The flow of colours is made even clearer by the lack of contours, and by the details complementing each other. We can virtually smell the scent of flowers and hear the chirping of birds. One would naturally think that a remarkable picture such as this one made its way unobstructed to the best of Hungarian masterpieces; yet, it was not the case. As Szinyei Merse recorded in his autobiography: “I painted myself in this picture, lying on my stomach, sampling food, with my back to the viewer. I must admit I had the critics that would not like my picture on my mind.” The painter was proven right: the piece’s unusual freshness was initially not received positively by everyone but its epoch-making importance was eventually recognised.
Arnold Böcklin: Spring Evening, 1879
The imagination of the great master of symbolism, Arnold Böcklin, was mainly captured by landscapes and the sea, but he is also deservedly known for his portraits. He combined his romantic themes with a realist style, populating his Swiss and Italians landscapes with mythological figures. In his Spring Evening the half-human and half-goat faun is playing his pipes to seduce the nymph by the tree. In Greek mythology nymphs are the embodiments of beauty, fertility and the regenerating and nurturing powers of nature, and they are always found in beautiful places and landscapes: they live in mountains, valleys, caves, groves, trees and meadows.
Auguste Rodin: Eternal Springtime, 1901
The Eternal Springtime features Paolo and Francesca from Dante’s Divine Comedy, more exactly from Hell. Their forbidden love – Francesca was the wife of Paolo’s brother – could only be stopped by Paolo’s brother murdering them upon discovering their love. The eternal moment, the “eternal springtime” is painfully brief, which makes the ecstasy of the embracing young lovers even more dramatic, undoubtedly preserving their feelings for eternity.