The Magyar Imagination: Selections from the Salgo Trust Donation of Hungarian Art

Portrait of a Lady with Parakeet by Ágost Canzi
Dec 09, 2007 - Mar 20, 2008
Voorhees Gallery

To celebrate the recent gift of works of art from the Nicholas M. Salgo Collection of Hungarian Art—the largest and most important representation of Hungarian art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries outside of Central Europe—the Zimmerli presents over 150 works representing the breadth of the collection from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. This exhibition marks the first time that an overview of this important collection has been presented to the public. Styles represented include nineteenth-century academic painting, plein-air painting, Secessionist (Art Nouveau), twentieth-century avant-garde, works in the nativist style of the interwar period, and contemporary painting and sculpture.

Among the notable pieces in the collection are five works by Mihály Munkácsy, the most important Hungarian artist of the nineteenth century; Mother and Two Children, an 1869 painting by Pál Szinyei-Merse, representing one of the earliest examples of Central European Impressionism; a portrait by József Rippl-Rónai, who worked in France as a member of the post-Impressionist group known as the Nabis; and abstract paintings by the significant modernist Janos Mattis-Teutsch.

Another intriguing aspect of the Salgo Trust collection, though currently less known than the art collection, is its Salgo Trust’s excellent holdings of historical maps of Hungary and central/south-eastern Europe, including significant items extending back as far as the sixteenth century. There is also a growing collection of rare books and publications, particularly Secessionist (Art Nouveau) books and publications of the early twentieth-century avant-garde.

The Magyar imagination reflects the particular mental vision of the world constructed by Hungarians, one that is both closely related to, yet also distinct from, the world view of other European nations. Stemming from a geographical region and millennial state formation historically bounded by the Carpathian Mountains (as well as the linguistic space defined by the Magyars’ highly distinctive language, and therefore mode of thought), it is a conceptual view that can be placed between the tragic, and highly politicized vision of Russian culture, and the more aestheticized and pastoral vision of the French, to name just two traditions strongly represented by the Zimmerli’s current holdings.

Ágost Canzi
Portrait of a Lady with Parakeet, 1856
Oil on canvas
The Salgo Trust for Education