There’s no shortage of reasons to visit Budapest at any time of year, yet if you’re planning to indulge in a city break to the Hungarian capital over the coming weeks and months, you’re in for an extra-special artistic treat as the city prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Toulouse-Lautrec, with a formidable exhibition, entitled ‘The World of Toulouse-Lautrec’, devoted to this celebrated French artist.
Set right in the heart of Heroes’ Square (a natural sightseeing starting point), Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts (Szepmuveszeti) is the privileged host of this rare retrospective devoted to arguably one of France’s most recognized artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Opening to the public on April 30th and running through the spring and summer months until August 24th, the Szepmuveszeti presents its very own extensive and comprehensive collection of graphic prints, lithographs and drawings, some 170 in total, focusing in particular on the last decade (1891 – 1901) of his work. This is the first time in 50 years that the Budapest Lautrec collection has been shown in its full ensemble and is thus undoubtedly the star attraction in the museum’s 2014 calendar of events.
From posters, book illustrations and periodicals to cover designs, cast lists and theatre and music programmes, the exhibition is divided into eight thematic sections and allows a fascinating insight both into the latter work of Toulouse-Lautrec and the prominent private and public themes displayed throughout his portfolio, in particular Parisian theatres, dance halls and cabaret shows such as the iconic Moulin Rouge, in addition to brothels and horse-racing. The exhibition is complemented further by contemporary photographs of that era, as well as motion pictures and sound recordings from around the turn of the 20th century.
Beyond the exhibition, the museum’s permanent collection is well worth a visit in its own right, housing as it does one of the most important collections of European art dating from antiquity to the present day. Having celebrated its centenary in 2006, the museum contains a fascinating series of departments, ranging from Egyptian art and classical antiquities to sculptures, prints and drawings.
Crème de la crème of the museum’s permanent portfolio is the Old Masters collection with some 3000 paintings by a veritable list of stars including, amongst others, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, van Dyck, Jordaens, Holbein, El Greco, Vélazquez and Goya. There is also an extensive and outstanding Post-1800 department, containing some 1,000 works by many of the great names of the Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Symbolism movements, amongst others.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and tickets for the exhibition cost HUF 2600.