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Hungarian National Gallery

The National Gallery
Buda Castle
Budapest

The Hungarian National Gallery in Buda Castle is the largest public collection of Hungarian fine art. Its thematic and historical exhibitions introduce visitors not only to the different periods of Hungarian art history, but also to the country’s past.

The works of art on display follow the dominant trends of each period from the 11th century to the present. You can wander around in a medieval and Renaissance lapidary, or view Gothic panel paintings, wooden sculptures and winged altarpieces, and some major works of late Renaissance and Baroque art. The diversity of genres is ensured by paintings, sculptures, drawings and art posters, and there is also a coin collection on show. The painting section is home to works by Hungarian painters between 1800 and 1945. Pieces by internationally renowned artists of the 19th century, such as Bertalan Székely, Mihály Munkácsy and Pál Szinyei Merse are on display. The sculpture collection includes many Art Nouveau and Symbolist pieces. The turn of the century is represented by Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka and the avant-garde Lajos Kassák. You can get a taste of the 20th century through the works of the constructivist Victor Vasarely, the surrealist and gesturalist Simon Hantai, and László Moholy‑Nagy, who is also known for being a teacher at the Bauhaus school in Weimar. The contemporary collection of the Hungarian National Gallery includes works of art related in some way or another to Hungary from World War II to today, providing an overview of the trends and important artists of the past decades, along with some fine-art features of Hungarian artistic life.

International masters in the National Gallery

The exhibitions include some works of applied art: carved wooden furniture made by architect Ede Toroczkai Wigand decorated with folk-tale motifs, china products with Art Nouveau motifs designed by József Rippl‑Rónai and manufactured in the Zsolnay factory for the Andrássy dining room, or the world-famous tubular steel furniture made by Marcell Breuer. After the National Gallery merged with the Museum of Fine Arts, a completely new exhibition concept was drawn up and applied to present the works of Hungarian artists alongside international masters, with the aim of displaying Hungarian art together with international works of fine art and industrial art of the same period. This gives visitors a chance to interpret each period as a whole, and allows them to see the works in the cultural context of the era concerned, thus finding the key ‘-isms’ and intellectual trends that shaped and influenced the creation of the work.

The richness of the permanent exhibitions is therefore ensured on an ongoing basis with the arrival of new acquisitions, newly restored and rare works of art. Accordingly, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet – considered standard exhibition names – are accompanied by works by Austrian, German, Belgian and Scandinavian artists, such as Franz von Lenbach, Wilhelm Leibl or Akseli Gallen‑Kallela, giving visitors a complex and detailed overview of the European art of the era. At the same time, you will also see the Orientalist and Italian works of Eugène Delacroix, Camille Corot or Franz von Lenbach. The age of impressionism and post-impressionism are represented by masterpieces by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Pierre Auguste Renoir. You can learn about Symbolism through the works of Auguste Rodin, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Germany’s Franz von Stuck, Italy’s Giovanni Segantini, Belgium’s Fernand Khnopff and George Minne, Switzerland's Arnold Böcklin or Finland’s Akseli Gallen‑Kallela.

 

Separate sections are dedicated to conceptual and post-conceptual artistic positions. These are illustrated by the works of Braco Dimitrijević, Erwin Wurm, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alan Sonfist, Anne and Patrick Poirier, László Lakner, Endre Tót, Victor Vasarely, Peter Halley, Kenneth Noland or Bertrand Lavier. Abstract art is represented by pieces by Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, Emil Schumacher, Judit Reigl, Sam Gilliam, Alberto Burri and Anthony Caro. In addition to the permanent collections, the Gallery often hosts temporary exhibitions. In the past 20 years, there have been exhibitions showcasing the work of international artists, such Georg Baselitz, Fernando Botero, Robert Capa, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, László Fülöp, Hans Jörg Glattfelder, Frida Kahlo, William Kentridge, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, René Magritte, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Egon Schiele. It is almost impossible not to hear about the Gallery’s current exhibitions: the advertisements displayed on the side of the castle are usually visible from the banks of the Danube on the Pest side. When you have had enough of paintings and have found what you were looking for in the museum shop, enjoy the view of the Pest side of the city from the terrace overlooking the banks of the Danube as you leave the Gallery. It would be a shame to miss this panoramic view!

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