Magyar Nemzeti Galéria — 3: Late Gothic Winged Altarpieces
Part 3 of my wandering through Budapest’s Hungarian National Gallery, which took a short while to find, because it’s through one of the rooms of the Renaissance and Baroque collection. And then it’s all vast hall with 4 meters of gilded altarpiece and 6 metres of another, and 3 of a different one, vast, colossal, intricate, the photos might capture some of the detail, but not the size. I stood 10 or 12 metres away for one just to fit it in.
The most famous piece, pretty much the gallery’s bookmark (you can buy it as that) is the Master MS’ The Visitation. Maybe I’m watching too much bent TV lately but it’s very “Holiday in the Spirit World” (that’s a Legend of Korra reference). The Charity of St. Nicholas I liked for the strange representation of the three daughters, and the levitating gold coins. Followed by St. Mary Magdalen altarpiece, which has the most gory and hilarious crucifixion scene I’ve ever found, very heavy on the symbolism. On the other side, women being beheaded and stabbed in the neck with crossbow bolt. And “Mulier amicta solis” and the seven-headed dragon with one spewing black tar and all of the heads crowned on their horns.
The first collection was more recently presented, introductory sections on the walls, long and detailed captions. By comparison this collection feels like it hasn’t been updated in the last few decades, the captions alone are minimal (though there is audio guide possibilities) and the lighting was at times shameful. Many mediæval works suffer from yellowing at the best of times, and heavy shellacking, or gilding, or other glossy finishes, both of which suffer hugely when the light glares and the temperature is solidly in the unflattering yellow range. As well, some works just can’t be properly seen, stuck in corridors, or having one meter space when needing four.