Rivers, Lakes, Seas – Vitalizing Water. Water Motifs in 19th Century European and Hungarian Paintings

15 June 2019 - 17 November 2019

Rivers, Lakes, Seas – Vitalizing Water. Water Motifs in 19th Century European and Hungarian Paintings

Place Vaszary Gallery, Balatonfüred , HUNGARY
Organizer Vaszary Gallery and the Fine Art Museum – Hungarian National Gallery
More info https://en.mng.hu/exhibitions/rivers-lakes-seas-vitalizing-water-water-motifs-in-19th-century-european-and-hungarian-paintings/

As tradition has it, one of the four basic elements constituting this world is water whose motif – the symbolism of the clear, liquid material – has been present in numerous forms in ancient myths from the very beginning. The water motif pervades the pagan belief system and presently practiced religions in several ways. We may be familiar with it as the definite element of creation myths, the water of life, the spring of birth, and it also appears as the fertilizing rain falling from the sky. Connected to images of the deceased it may provide the scene for burials or a river ensuring the transfer (transition) to the other world. The rivers that help the cleansing and rebirth process, the ritual baths, the bathing rituals where hands and feet are washed as well as the “sacred” fountains are all part of the human culture, but we may also read about threatening floods that punish sinful humans. Mythological stories and tales tell us about gods born from the sea or special water beings while narratives in legends and Biblical writings preserved the memory of the saints striking the rock to squeeze water out or the figure of the chosen prophet parting the sea to open a dry ground.

At the joint exhibition of the Vaszary Gallery and the Fine Arts Museum-Hungarian National Gallery displays European – mainly French – and Hungarian works of the 19th century. The choice of works was primarily defined by a selection of water motifs related to ordinary life. By displaying a series of representative paintings from the age of Classicism, Romaniticism, Realism, Naturalism, plein air paintings and Impressionism the exhibition displays the artistic and stylistic image characteristic of the age.

The more than fifty paintings at the exhibition – partly mixing the Hungarian and English works, partly pairing them up – are grouped around the following topics:
Waterfront landscapes (rivers, lakes, seas)
Nourishing water, slaking thirst (wells, carrying water, drinking, fishing)
Bath, bathing, Arcadia motif (the symbol of purity and innocence)
Water in mythology and in the Bible (storm, baptism)
Water experiences (boat tours, walks, games)
Water as an atmospheric element (hazy, foggy landscapes)

Joint exhibition by the Vaszary Gallery and the Fine Art Museum – Hungarian National Gallery
Curator of the exhibition: Edit Plesznivy art historian