Szépművészeti Múzeum — 2: 19th Century Art

After I’d caught my breath and cooled down from Michele di Ridolfo’s Pietà, I discovered I was in the 19th Century Art collection, and had somehow missed a couple of rooms of the mediæval stuff. Not to worry, I just go round in circles till I’m done. eeeh… I don’t actually know which collection some of these belong in. There’s basically a diffuse crossover between Italian Painting 1250-1800 and the 19th Century stuff.

The first one that tripped my attention I had moved elsewhere was Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s Boar Hunt. Though it’s not 19th century, it’s also not religious art, though the Italian collection isn’t all religious, and it was painted in Venice. By a French person. Aaanyway, it’s quite graphic and full of tense, straining violence.

Antonio de Bellis’ Moses Striking Water from the Rock has not much to do with Moses at all. I’m not even sure which one he is. Probably the guy in lilac all pious at the back looking up with a twig in his hand. It’s the woman in the foreground who is in the light and looking directly at me, pulling a naked child to her. Her caught gaze is like a resentful subject of street photography. Her expression is neutral but her eyes, her body … she is the only one paying attention to her surroundings, except for another man above her and in the background, also with that blank look of hostility at the my invasion of their privacy.

Then it all turns famous names. Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Manet. Works I’ve seen over and over, but to see The Buffet, or Lady with a Fan (Jeanne Duval) in front of me, not in a book, the brushwork and colour, is glorious. Particularly the detail which anticipates abstract impressionism, and for me has that endless depth and repetition of detail I like when I’m photographing landscape, inexact, the subject is not reducible to a recognisable form, it becomes ungraspable, blurred.

There was a small collection of ‘Europeans in Arabia’ exotic landscapes with camels and people in robes and turbans, others of Roma and Sinti, dancing, gambling, fortune-telling. Even the earlier Italian works like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s Saint James the Great Conquering the Moors and Sebastiano Ricci’s Bathsheba at the Bath (both in Szépművészeti Múzeum — 1: Italian Painting 1250-1800) play heavily with orientalism in a way earlier works do not.

This was just a quick run-though of the collection, before almost missing and then finding the European Sculpture 1200 – 1800 collection.