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A MIÉNK művészegyesület története a korabeli sajtó tükrében II.

History of the artists' group MIÉNK as reflected in the contemporary press II

Művészettörténeti Értesítő
Árpád Tímár


The first part of the study appeared in issue no. 2008/1 of Acta Historiae Artium. The second part is concerned with the press coverage of the society's second and most momentous exhibition in 1909, taking into account all supportive, appreciative reviews as well as the disapproving, unsympathetic ones by conservative critics. The exhibition multiplied the attacks against the group; a spectacular campaign was organized to celebrate the art of Gyula Benczúr, and at the general assembly of the National Salon members of MIÉNK were ousted from the board and Lajos Ernst was removed from the leadership. To offset the attacks, György Bölöni organized a series of exhibitions, showing works of Rippl-Rónai and younger MIÉNK members in Kolozsvár, Nagyvárad and Arad. Parallel with that, the organization called Artists' House led by Miklós Rózsa was emerging and in December 1909 an exhibition entitled New Pictures was staged of works by artists later to be rallied in the group The Eight. All this fermented the slow disintegration of MIÉNK, which held its last exhibition in 1910 and then dissolved.

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Andrássy út 96.: egy másik Herzl Tivadar háza. A Herzl-Hernádi – Szász-Koburg – Gothai hercegi – ideiglenes köztársasági elnöki palota

No. 96, Andrássy avenue: the house of another Theodor Herzl. The Herzl-Hernádi – Saxe-Coburg – Gotha ducal palace – temporary residence of the president of the republic

Művészettörténeti Értesítő
Ferenc Vadas†


Two centrally symmetrical squares, Octogon and Rondeau divide into three sections the representative avenue of Budapest, Andrássy út, lined mostly with neo-renaissance buildings. The two sections closer to the city centre are built up in a closed line with the building height decreasing towards the City Park while the section ending in the park comprises detached villas. There is a short connecting section between the Rondeau and the villas, which is also closed but the buildings with front gardens are on a smaller scale. No public buildings were erected here; all is residential housing, some being palaces of single families, the rest rental housing. One of them is discussed in this paper, joined into a visual unity with its larger and more richly decorated neighbours.

The rusticated façade of the three-storied neo-renaissance residential building has eight evenly spaced out axes; what alone upsets the perfect symmetry of the apertures is the entrance in the first axis on the left. The broad cornice running along the entire façade and the identical windows by stories make the front look strongly horizontal. The plastic aediculae of the second storey suggest that it is the principal storey, but unusually the piano nobile is the mezzanine. The courtyard facades of the L-shaped building with a single courtyard wing are more massively articulated. To the court side of the street wing a single-storey high central addition and a tower-like elevator-shaft are added. On the courtyard face of the court wing a glazed balcony runs along the whole length to the cylindrical tower with a pointed steeple in the northern corner of the courtyard also attached to the courtyard wing of the rear neighbor, no. 59 Aradi utca. In the western corner there is a similar staircase tower belonging to the next rear neighbor at the end of the other courtyard wing of the Aradi street building.

The barrel-vaulted doorway is divided into sections by 5 pairs of Corinthian pilasters and the archivolts. Both the archivolts and the vault sections are coffered. Restorers have found that the coffers had decorative painting and the pilaster capitals were gilded. The staircase opens from the doorway on the right. The staircase of a square plan has wrought iron railing with an ornate candelabrum at the start. The bottom of the landing on each floor is decorated with plasterwork geometric motifs and rosettes originally gilded. The ground-plans of the mezzanine and the storey above it are identical. Next to the staircase there is a narrow anteroom with its axis perpendicularly to the main walls. It has a small extension projecting into the courtyard. Next to it, in the middle of the courtyard front, there is an oblong room also extended into the courtyard in the middle.

There are twice four rooms in the street tract. The most richly decorated space in the piano nobile and the entire building is the reception room in the courtyard tract of the mezzanine. Up to half the length of the side walls and the entire ceiling is paneled. The doors leading to the anteroom and street tract are highly embellished, lined with pilasters but the aperture heads they used to hold are missing. The courtyard projection looks like a bay window from the inside; wall investigation has exposed ornamental painting on a gilded ground on the walls. The anteroom and two outer (single-window) rooms have stucco ceilings. None of the original interior decoration of the two inner rooms (with two and three windows) survives, and little of the second-storey interior is original, too.

The plot was purchased by Theodor Herzl and his wife Sarolta Herzog in 1881. He is only a namesake of the founder of Zionism also born in Budapest. This Herzl was born in 1830, nearly 30 years before his world-famous namesake. His career was connected to one of the most successful families of merchants and haute bouregoises rising into the ranks of the aristocracy by the turn of a century, the Herzogs, who had a real palace built for themselves along Andrássy út, right across from the Herzl house. Herzl contracted Adolf Feszty (1846–1900) who had 11 buildings erected along the Avenue. All are in the closed-row sections in neo-renaissance style, none being villas or public buildings. The majority is four-storied rental buildings, and only two three-storied building were private palaces. The one in question was built in 1881–83; the original plans are lost. In this phase of construction, the entire street wing and a short courtyard section attached to the street wing were built. There is no information on the original furnishings. Since the ornaments possibly date from the subsequent reconstruction, it is presumed that there were higher middle-class apartments (one per storey) in the building of decent quality but reserved interior decoration, which is more in line with the facade of a residential rather than palatial appearance.

Herzl and his wife bought the Aradi utca plot behind no. 96, Andrássy út in two installments. In 1890 they applied for permission to unite the two plots and enlarge the building towards Aradi street. The new building section was planned by Swiss-born Lajos Ray Rezső (1845–1899), a fashionable architect of his age, the planner of the Herzog palace. A greater part of the extension fell on the Aradi utca plot; Ray actually added a separate tenement building to the Herzl palace with an atelier on the fourth floor. The character of the property was modified by this enlargement, a rental building being added to a palace. As a result, a typical Budapest complex of mixed palatial and rental housing emerged. The combination of the two building types of different functions was required by economy, by the aim to recover the building costs. In terms of architecture, there were several variants. There could be rented apartments within a palace (in a separate wing or storey – as it was here at the beginning), in a separate building of rented apartments next to the palace (behind a common façade or also separated on the front), or (like in this case) behind the palace. The point was that the two should constitute a cadastral or architectural unity. The discussed variant is unique in that the rental building was erected a decade or so later and occupied a part of the palatial plot as well. The visual unity of the two courtyards, the palace yard not being separated, is unusual. It is also peculiar that the architectural design of the courtyards is predominated by the rental building. The decoration of the reception room in the original building probably also dates from the time of reconstruction (it has only written accounts now).

Theodor Herzl had two sons schooled by the father abroad. At the turn of the century they adopted the Hungarian name Hernádi and both made a considerable career in their respective professions. The better known was Kornél, the younger one, who studied painting with Sándor Liezen-Mayer and Gyula Benczúr in Munich and Jules Lefebrve and Francois Flameng in Paris where he eventually settled. He usually returned to Hungary for exhibitions. He was a master of conservative genre-painting of peasant and soldier's scenes. His best-known work shows E. A. Poe with the raven. He has a single painting – Women cleaning fish – in the Hungarian National Gallery. The elder son, Mór, was a literary historian. He studied at several German universities and later presumably also in France. He was an expert of medieval Provencal and Catalonian literature. In the History of universal literature published in 1905 he wrote the sections on these themes. After their father's death in 1902 they inherited the Andrássy út property. Mór Hernádi died in 1907, Kornél in 1910.

In 1911 Philip, prince of Saxon-Coburg-Gotha, a well-known aristocrat at the turn of the century, became the owner of the building. He was the scion of the Hungarian line of the family whose members ruled several countries from Belgium to Bulgaria. Prince Philip moved to Budapest in 1875 and had a former apartment building on the Danube bank converted into a palace by the leading conservative architect of the age, Alajos Hauszmann. It was replaced by the headquarters of one of the largest banks in the early 20th century, and Philip the landowner, famous traveler, hunter and medal collector moved to the former Herzl-Hernádi palace. In 1912 he had minor redecorations carried out by the son of the former planner, Vilmos Rezső Ray (1876–1938).

Prince Philip died in 1921 but no new owner can be documented before 1936 when Mrs József Bún, widow of a well-known banker bought it. She ordered no change on the building but through her the Andrássy út palace assumed political significance after World War II. Mrs Bún's nephew who adopted the Hungarian name Csornoky in 1945 married the daughter of one of the best-known Hungarian politicians, Zoltán Tildy. He thus became the son-in-law of the first (and last) freely elected president of the second Hungarian Republic proclaimed in 1946. Not much later Csornoky was accused of spying on trumped-up charges, sentenced to death and executed by the Hungarian Stalinists. Tildy lived in this building already in 1945, thus in 1946 it became the temporary presidential residence. It had this function until the completion of the conversion of the former Esterházy palace in the so-called aristocratic district behind the National Museum. When the Andrássy út palace was the president's residence, it was still owned by Mrs. Bún who applied for permission to divide the unified plot again into an Aradi street and an Andrássy út property in June 1949. The authorities complied and the plot demarcation defined in 1949 and left unchanged by the nationalization is still in effect. The building is again privately owned but in bad state of repair and its prospected function is unknown.

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with frogging and standing collar under the ermine-trimmed herald tabard and the fur-trimmed headdress süveg present Hungarian characteristics combined with imperial court style. The costume was designed by Gyula Benczúr, a distinguished painter of

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