A Painter and Patron in Budapest after the
Second World War
[Autor desconocido]: Marion
Czobel, Bela: Sin título
Czobel, Bela. Sin título
Istvan, Zador: Retrato de Adolf Fenyes, 1921
Fenyes, Adolf: Sin título
Fenyes, Adolf: Sin título
Edvi Illés, Aladar: Sin título
Rippl Ronai: Jozsef Piacsek
Fenyes: Adolf Retrato de padre
Rippl Ronai. Jozsef Maillol, 1914
Fenyes, Adolf: Sin título
Corneille
Obras de artistas húngaros de la posguerra

Veronika Pócs
Art historian
Vasarely Museum, Budapest, Hungary

The photograph shows a half-naked man walking towards the camera; by his side, a woman in a bathing suit is holding a basket, whose smile and self-confidence conveys strength; by their side, a good-looking young man with an engaging smile moves forward. It is unknown who took this picture that captured one moment during the carefree vacations of a group of friends in Hungary.1

This is the best-known and most widely published image of Margit Eppinger Weisz in academic texts on Hungarian art history. A painter and patron, she was one of the most remarkable and active figures of artistic life in Budapest, which experienced a revival after the Second World War. This picture, the token of a friendship, was taken in the summer of 1947 in Szentendre, a small city located on the banks of the river Danube, 25 kilometers away from the Hungarian capital city.

 

Several paintings and drawings still survive from that summer of 1947 –works that are product of those meetings –unique and defining at the same time–; compositions created during the weeks shared by those artists: the Hungarian painters, as well as a French and a Dutch artist.2

 

This photograph –cited and republished in the aforementioned academic texts on the Hungarian visual arts of that time and its most prominent artistic group, the so-called European School– is cited as one of the strongest pieces of evidence of the international connections of the group.3 The image shows world-renown painters Corneille4 and Jacques Doucet5 to the left and to the right of Eppinger Weisz, respectively, who had invited both of them to her home in Budapest and her summer house in Szentendre on occasion of a chance meeting abroad.

 

The period between 1945 and 1948 –the few years preceding the establishment of the Communist dictatorship and the suffocating censorship that ensued– represented one of the most fertile, albeit tragically brief, periods in the 20th-century history of Hungary, both in socio-political and artistic terms: filled with hope, Hungarian artists embarked on impulsing a cultural revitalization, before they ended up relegated to the periphery of Europe, behind the Iron Curtain, under the yoke of a restrictive ideology that, as part of highest-level party politics, banned any trait of progressivism.

 

“The Figures from the Trial by the People’s Court”6

The Leaders of the “Arrow-Cross Terror” Drawn by a Jewish Artist

Before the war, the Eppingers lived at Telepes Street and led a lifestyle typical of a wealthy bourgeois family. As a result of an air strike on May 4th of 1944, they lost all their belongings –which included the book and art collections gathered by the family, consisting of several generations of intellectuals– and were forced to flee. After several months of staying in one of the so-called “yellow-star houses” (buildings designated as places of residence for Jews), they took refuge in the home of a family of friends. The following year, until the liberation of the country was concluded, they survived in hiding at the Máriássy family’s mansion near Besztercebánya (Banská Bystrica), a town annexed to Slovakia in 1919, even though the majority of its inhabitants were Hungarians at that time.7 Upon their return to Budapest, the Eppinger family moved to a new home at 6 Sas Street. At the same time, as Marion Eppinger –Margit’s daughter– recalls, the family also rented a house in Szentendre during the first summer following the war, where her mother –feeling more carefree and with more time on her hands– was able to resume her artistic creation.

Among her earliest work produced after 1945, we can find a really exceptional series: around eighteen drawings8 made by Eppinger Weisz about the so-called “Trials by the People’s Court”. These artworks initially formed part of the collection of the National Museum, but since 1996 they have been in custody of the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives.

Regrettably, very scarce information is available on the circumstances surrounding the creation of those works, and about how and why she was authorized to attend the trials and make her drawings. It is unknown whether she responded to an official request or whether she made use of her extensive network of contacts to obtain permission to witness this historically significant event. It is conceivable indeed that it was the latter case, as the distinctive characteristics of the specific subject matter –which called for a realistic and at the same time sensitive representation of the facts to be immortalized (moreover, within the limited time available to perform, considering the duration of the trial)– must have posed a major artistic challenge for her.

The National Interim Government was set up after the end of the war. Right away it set out to bring to justice those responsible for what was known as the “Arrow-Cross Terror”, as well as to prosecute war criminals who had collaborated with the Nazis and were deemed responsible for the Hungarian Holocaust. This was carried out beginning in October 1945 within the framework of trials by popular courts, whose public sessions were held at the Academy of Music in Budapest, the only venue in the city that had been preserved intact and had the capacity to accommodate such considerable audience. Undoubtedly, the sessions of the trial conducted in the elegant concert hall of that building turned out to be an emotionally strenuous experience for all those involved: the spectators and the prosecutors, the judges, as well as the defendants themselves.

In a message sent to me by Marion, the painter’s daughter, she comments on this experience and recalls that her mother was very distraught when she arrived home from the Academy of Music. Undoubtedly, for an artist of Jewish origin, facing the horrors of war and the massacre of her people, as well as confronting the perpetrators of the Hungarian Holocaust and being in their presence just a few months after the conflict had ended, must have been a very distressing personal challenge.

The trial was held in the main hall of the Academy of Music, which lent a very singular theatrical character, quite dramatic per se, to those events. In order to access the hall –unheated and crowded with people–, an authorization issued in advance was required. Eppinger Weisz attended at least one of those audiences, and depicted it from a privileged vantage point, from a short distance.

Apart from her works, art critic György Román’s9 drawings of the same event are also known, and it is possible that additional drawings by other authors present at the popular court’s trials may come to light later in the future.

In each one of the eighteen drawings (20.2 cm x 27.3 cm) by Eppinger Weisz, the artist specified the name of the individuals depicted, whether they were a defendant, a plaintiff or a member of the audience. The individuals portrayed are the following:

 

Ferenc Szálasi (Prime Minister, from October 1944 to March 1945, Arrow Cross Party); Károly Beregfy (Defense Minister, from October 1944 to March 1945); Gábor Kemény (Minister of Foreign Affairs, from October 1944 to March 1945, Arrow Cross Party); Jenő Szöllősi (Deputy Prime Minister, from October 1944 to March 1945, Arrow Cross Party); Gábor Vajna (Interior Minister, from October 1944 to March 1945, Arrow Cross Party); Sándor Csia (member of the Arrow Cross Party); Béla Imrédy (Finance Minister); Edmund Veesenmayer (previously German ambassador in Hungary, then plenipotentiary Commissioner of the Empire). On the prosecution’s side, conducting the interrogation process, István Mándi Nagy and László Frank were depicted.

 

While in these realistic drawings, which strived to be objective, the audience appears as an impersonal crowd, the figure, the characteristic demeanor and the personal features of the key actors involved are depicted by the artist with chilling fidelity, which makes it easy to identify them. What Margit managed to highlight –though perhaps unconsciously– were the figures of the war criminals awaiting the moment, or perhaps at the very instant, when their responsibility was being discussed, an aspect of that tragic moment that not even the photographs taken at the scene could have conveyed more forcefully10. The People’s Court portfolio certainly represents a unique set of works belonging to the artistic legacy of this painter and patron, who eventually immigrated to Argentina in 1948.

 

 

After the War
Living and Creating in Szentendre and Budapest
between 1945 and 1948

 

During the period immediately following the Second World War, Margit Eppinger Weisz participated in two collective exhibitions. In December 1945, together with about thirty other artists, she contributed her works for the Exhibition of Socialist Visual Artists held at the neighborhood facilities of the District VI filial of the Social Democrat Party of Hungary, located at 41 Andrássy Avenue. A brief article described the works exhibited there as follows:

 

[...] A fresh, playful, Gallic spirit can also be found sometimes, in the style of the substantial French Realism. [...] In general, the theme of the images is the landscape of Szentendre.11

 

The siege waged for the liberation of Budapest –which lasted around a month and a half– ended in February 1945. In October of that year, the artistic association known as the European School was formed, and it was conformed not only of visual artists, but also of writers, philosophers, physicians and psychologists. Margit had close ties to this progressive group, a quasi-movement that sought to catch up with the contemporary European trends in visual arts. Both this group and Eppinger Weisz were guided by the same aspirations: synthesize and reinterpret those classical modernist trends that had been banished from the official exhibition centers and halls by the conservative Hungarian cultural politics that prevailed during the inter-war period.12

The key figures of the European School, Árpád Mezei13 and Imre Pán,14 organized a showing of recent works by Romanian surrealist artists; they also devoted an exhibition of “Skupina Ra”, the top Czech surrealist group, in Budapest.

In addition to the artists from Central Europe, who drew upon avant-garde traditions while carrying out innovative experimentation, a special exhibit was dedicated to the works created in Hungary by the already mentioned French artist Jacques Doucet and Dutch artist Corneille, who founded the CoBrA group a year later.15

Several members of the European School as well as their host Margit worked together with the two artist friends Corneille and Doucet in Szentendre, in the vicinity of Budapest.16 Various members of the colony of artists in Szentendre also participated actively in the intellectual community of the European School.

Corneille, who was twenty-five years old at the time, recalls his experience of visiting Szentendre as follows:

 

The Szentendre period was delight itself, despite the ruinous lodging. We had new, memorable experiences ahead: work, camaraderie, challenging discussions […]. I would have liked to immediately bring the vital energy irradiated by nature to the paper. The charm still remained. In Szentendre, I got acquainted with the spirit of consensus, which later found its expression in the CoBrA group.17

 

Inspiration and welcoming: the wonderful and pristine natural environment, whose central point was the Danube with its abundant wildlife; folk art of a quasi-primitive appearance; views of small-town streets. The small city, that had suffered through the Second World War, in addition to so many harsh years in Hungarian history, preserved its innermost squares and its treasures, rich in honest –in the sense of “raw” (from the art brut)– traditions of folk representations as well as Jewish and Orthodox Christian motifs.

For these artists, the character of Szentendre at that time comprehended the inspiring environment of the small city, which was willing to embrace and accept the diversity that derived from its past when it had been home to a considerable Serbian, Jewish and German minority, whose folk traditions were still kept alive in the town.

During the years following the Second World War, the former clear-cut distinction between the artists who belonged to the old colony and carried on the constructivist-surrealist style, on the one hand, and the visual artists who created compositions based on nature and continued working within the framework of the so-called post-Nagybánya painting18, on the other, started to get blurred. Those who experimented with the deconstruction of forms, with a blunt reductionism, drew upon the formal constructivist and surrealist tool-box to create their works, some of them in a more lyrical fashion, some others in a more expressive manner. From the style of the few surviving pieces that Eppinger Weisz produced during the 1940s, it can be inferred that, even in her Szentendre production after the Second World War, the painter continued working on rather realistic, frequently figurative representations, in which she used strong colors and thicker paint layers.

Eppinger Weisz’ painting style shows a closer resemblance to that of her friends Béla Czóbel and János Kmetty, who carried on the post-Nagybánya style in their works based on nature. Czóbel’s works, as well as Eppinger Weisz’, show the influence of both the French fauves and the expressionist artists. In the intimate lyricism of her paintings, traits of an inclination to some sort of melancholy and contemplation can be appreciated. At the same time, whether it is a portrait, a landscape or an interior painting, she rekindles and highlights the expressiveness of the details in her compositions with paint patches and lines in more vivid color. While she mainly aimed at capturing the visual experience, reproducing the atmosphere of the place depicted and the mood or personal resonance of the figure represented became substantial attributes in her compositions.

We know that, during the period covered by this text, Margit participated –apart from the collective exhibit held in December 1945– in another public exhibition held in the conference room of the Szentendre Town Hall in August 1946.19

Among the artists working at the Szentendre colony, Jenő Barcsay, Béla Czóbel, Rudolf Diener-Dénes, Jenő Gadányi, István Ilosvay Varga, Mária Modok and Dezső Korniss belonged to the innermost circle of Eppinger Weisz’ “Szentendre” friends and colleagues, and between 1945 and 1948 they met regularly at the house rented by her family. In a letter addressed to her close friend, Dutch poet Louis Tiessen20 in the summer of 1947, Corneille dedicated the following lines to his host:

 

Hungary is immersed in the mud of politics. My hosts, owners of a large textile factory, face problems with the occupying forces and are stuck in a dead end. There is a disheartened, despondent atmosphere at the house […]. My host is an extremely thoughtful, considerate woman. By all accounts, she is determined to cure me of my melancholy. […] She has an extensive network of contacts.21

 

Margit’s personal disposition and friendly attitude as a generous patron is evident from the Dutch painter’s account. It is possible that this exceptionally developed humane attitude mentioned by Corneille had been what led her to immediately throw herself –after 1945, in a country defeated and devastated by the siege– into hosting meetings that became forums for artistic circles in the capital city and in Szentendre. She did all that with amazing determination, after her family had lost absolutely everything as the war front reached the capital.

 

The Friday Evening Art Salon

6 Sas Street, Budapest

 

Immediately after the war, there were no opportunities for setting up cultural or visual art-related institutions. For that reason, a fundamental role was played by venues that hosted groups promoting progressive ideas through exhibitions, meetings or conferences, which could be held in family homes, political party headquarters, factories or book stores. Such artistic discourses –vital, free and organically disseminated– would continue to manifest themselves across Hungary up to the communist takeover, that is, until an antidemocratic censorship system was implemented in 1948. It then becomes clear why it was of paramount importance for the artistic life of that time that, given the circumstances, certain prominent intellectuals or artists open their houses to host such activities in an orderly and heated environment.

At first, after the war, the country’s borders remained open, which in principle made it possible to travel abroad (possibly to Western Europe), be it just for a shorter visit or for a longer one. However, due to the widespread poverty, very few people could afford to travel as Margit did; but she returned from Western Europe carrying valuable art magazines and publications with her.22 Naturally, she made those publications available to her friends and colleagues, so that they could stay informed about European contemporary art –especially French art–, and find inspiration from them. Unfortunately, when emigrating from the country in 1948, the Eppinger-Weisz family left their entire library in Budapest, including the aforementioned magazines and publications; therefore all that material is now considered lost.23

On Fridays, the Eppinger family hosted a kind of intellectual salon at their home in Sas Street, which was frequented by artist and musician friends as well as prominent personalities of the cultural life of the time. These evening gatherings, devoted for the most part to discussions on art, were regularly attended by Mária Modok, Béla Czóbel, Rudolf Diener-Dénes, János Kmetty –painters who mostly worked in Szentendre at that time–; painter István Farkas’24 sons, Charlie25 and Jenő (István had perished in Auschwitz); as well as visual artists Ferenc Zádor, Magda Hauswirth (Imre Pán’s wife); art historian Jenő Kopp; renowned pianist Sándor Reschofsky, and pediatrician Dr. Géza Petényi.26

As Marion Eppinger recalls, François Gachot27 was one of the regular attendees to the meetings –a key figure in fact, a very close friend of her parents, and particularly of her mother. Gachot strived to encourage opportunities to offer varied programs to the Budapest audiences and community interested in French art –both visual and literary– as well as to promote their ties abroad. Together with his artist friends, he organized debates and conferences and brought about opportunities to exhibit works of art, driven by a shared aspiration to keep up with the European intellectual avant-garde and by his conviction about the importance of gaining a role in the international artistic field.

Gachot himself belonged to the inner circle of the European School, and as such, he invited various French or Francophone artists and intellectuals –who either lived in Budapest or were just visiting the country– to the Sas Street gatherings, among others French surrealist poet Louis Aragon and his Russian-born wife Elsa Triolet, a writer herself.28

As with the circle gathered around the Eppinger-Weisz family, the intellectual art lovers in the capital city, who aimed at reorganizing and revitalizing themselves, tried to plan their meetings in an informal and organic way. At that moment, one of the principal venues was, for instance, the dilapidated mansion at 17 Endre Ady Avenue, which was assigned to the Cultural Association for Workers. This building provided workshop space for ten artists, as well as living quarters for them and their families. Certain members of the European School were included among them, such as Ibolya and Tamás Lossonczy, Júlia Vajda, Endre Bálint and József Jakovits. In turn, on the Pest side of the Danube, the Mezei family –the French-oriented founders of the European School– established a shared tradition for regular dialogue about progressive thinking at the home of Árpád Mezei and his brother Imre Pán (assumed name of Imre Mezei), located in Dorozsmai Street. Meanwhile, philosopher Béla Tábor and art historian Stefánia Mándy offered their apartment located in Haris Passageway, in the heart of the city for the same purpose. Similarly, Imre Pán’s Artist Bookstore, at 27 Andrássy Avenue –the most beautiful boulevard in Budapest– had subscriptions to French and Western Europe magazines; at the same time, exhibitions showing works of art by cubist, constructivist and surrealist artists were also organized at the store, which sometimes even included original works.29

 

 

Marion Eppinger’s Scrap Book

“May you learn to love art through these pages”30

 

In actual fact, only very scarce material or artistic evidence has been preserved about the life led by the Eppinger-Weisz family during 1945–1948. Nevertheless, a truly unique set of drawings, autographs and dedications did survive after all. This collection was built by Marion Eppinger –then a little girl with a passion for art– based on specific requests she made to the artists that visited her parents’ company and home, or worked in their house in Szentendre.

This “scrap book”, singular per se due to its genre, with its pages stamped with sometimes personal messages, as well as compositions, deserves special recognition as a unique portfolio of artistic drawings. Part of its value naturally derives from its documentary character, since through the names contained therein, we get a glimpse at a key branch of the contact network of the Hungarian intellectual and cultural elite, which comprised very remarkable personalities. Those who contributed their annotations, dedications or drawings to the little girl’s scrap book are Mária Modok (1946), Béla Czóbel (1946), Rudolf Diener-Dénes (1946), Jenő Kopp (1946), Jacques Doucet (1947), Ferenc Zádor (1947), Corneille (1947), Eugen Jebeleanu (autograph)31 and Florica Cordescu (a drawing depicting Margit Eppinger Weisz)32 (1947), Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet (1947), Zoltán Kodály, Sándor Reschofsky (no date is specified for the latter two).

In general, those who contributed for the scrap book did not have much time available to make their annotations. This fact makes this “diary” from Marion Eppinger’s childhood even more interesting, as their pages probably emerged within the context of a meeting or a concert, almost as gifts from artists who intended to provide artistic inspiration to a little girl.

Marion was studying piano at the time. In one of her most memorable performances, she participated in a concert organized to demonstrate the novel didactic method developed by composer and pedagogue Zoltán Kodály, who revolutionized musical education. In addition to participating in that special performance, Marion also enriched her collection of memories by including a dedication from her teacher in her scrap book. Besides that of Kodály’s, there is a personal, though brief, dedication from another remarkable music teacher, Sándor Reschofsky: “Ajánlja a kis Marionnak Reschofsky bácsi 1946. március 1” [Uncle Reschofsky recommends this to little Marion, March 1st, 1946]. The renowned pianist and music teacher, who composed the didactic work Piano Method –which later gained great popularity– together with Béla Bartók in 1913, jotted down a few musical notes for Marion as a keepsake.

Among the annotations made by visual artists, that of Jenő Barcsay seems to be the most accomplished one. This is a very expressive work: a semi-abstract space balanced by long arcs, powerful lines of force –a typical example of his surrealist pictorial structures. The maestro signed this composition, made during his years in the European School, with the following lines: “Marionnak emlékül. Barcsay Jenő bácsi” [For Marion, as a keepsake, Uncle Jenő Barcsay].

The drawings dedicated by Béla Czóbel y Mária Modok –who also worked in Szentendre– strike a warm tone befitting the family’s close friends when addressing Margit’s daughter: “A kis Marionnak emlékül, 1946, február 1, Modok Mária néni” [For little Marion, as a keepsake, February 1st, 1946, Aunt Mária Modok], the painter wrote below her portrait of the little girl.

Czóbel, Mária Modok’s husband, who had lived in Paris for several years, accompanied his drawing of a bunch of flowers with a dedication that mixed French with Hungarian: “A Mlle Marion, avec affection, 1946, péntek, Czóbel” [For Miss Marion, with affection, 1946, Friday, Czóbel].

Fortunately for posterity, Marion also handed her scrap book to Corneille and Doucet, so that it could be enriched with some reflections or drawings made by them. Interestingly, at her request, both artists drew figures that showed a dramatic countenance (in particular, Jacques Doucet, a man of a passionate character): those figures are looking openly and straight into the spectators’ eyes; they could even be considered as abstract, emotional self-portraits.

Their drawings were accompanied by some personal messages. Doucet expressed his wish that the little girl continue to make a quick progress in her command of the French language,33 while Corneille provided the most pertinent dedication in all of Marion’s scrap book: “Pour Marion en espèrant qu’elle s’intéressera toujours à la peinture (la bonne) Corneille” [For Marion, in the hope that she will always be interested in painting (of the good kind). Corneille].

Unfortunately, very few documents have been preserved about Eppinger Weisz’ daily life in Budapest between 1945 and 1948. Nevertheless, from the scant details that are actually known, an energetic, generous personality emerges: someone who placed all she had at the service of her family’s and friends’ existential and intellectual revival after the war. It is evident that her emigration, as well as that of so many other artists like her during the 1948–1949 period, constitutes an irretrievable loss for her homeland.

 

Veronika Pócs

NOTES

1 Original publication: “Vidám élet a szentendrei művésztelepen” [Joyful life in the colony of artists of Szentendre], Színház, July 1947, p. 76.

2 György, Péter and Gábor Pataki, Az Európai Iskola és az elvont művészek csoportja [The European School and the group of abstract artists]. Corvina Kiadó, Budapest, 1990. See Figure 239: Corneille, Landscape of Szentendre, oil on canvas, 1947, or Figure 240: Jacques Doucet, Gipsy girl from Szentendre, oil on canvas, 1947.

3 György, Péter and Gábor Pataki, Op. cit.

4 Guillaume Cornelis van Beverloo, Dutch visual artist (1922–2010).

5 Jacques Doucet, French visual artist (1924–1994).

6 Charcoal on paper, 20.2 cm x 27.3 cm each. Property of the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, inventory numbers: from 96.47 to 96.65.

7 Based on personal communication from Marion Eppinger (Budapest, November 2018).

8 Their titles are the following: Szálasi, Beregfy and Count Kemény; Imrédy; The military balcony; Jenő Rácz before the court; The defendant; Szálasi and Count Kemény; Szálasi at the Court; Figures of the trial by the People’s Court, annotated below their heads: István Mándi Nagy, László Frank; (Károly) Beregfi [sic] before the People’s Court; Wesenmayer [sic] and the interpreter; Vajna before the People’s Court; Szálasi, Beregfy, Csia, Vajna and Count Kemény before the People’s Court; Beregfy, Kemény and Szálasi before the People’s Court; Ferenc Szálasi before the People’s Court; Szálasi and Beregfy; Csia before the Court; The prosecution’s statement, and The trial.

 

9 Román’s drawings formed part of the exhibition Áldozatok és gyilkosok [Victims and murderers] held in the spring of 1995 at the Hungarian Jewish Museum of Budapest; and were shown later in the summer of 1995 at the Yad Vasem Museum of Jerusalem. The general public could also appreciate György Román’s People’s Court portfolio within the framework of the imposing and much needed exhibition Elhallgatott Holocaust [The silenced Holocaust], held at the Gallery of Fine Arts in Budapest, between March 18th and May 31st, 2004.

10 Otherwise, it was prohibited to take pictures, with the exception of the Szálasi trial, for instance.

11 Szocialista Képzőművészek Kiállítása [Exhibition of Socialist Visual Artists], column “Művészet, irodalom, tudomány”, Népszava, Budapest, December 15th, 1945 (No. 267), p. 2. According to the order indicated in the article, the artists that participated in the exhibition were: Csaba Vilmos Perlott, Gyula Papp, Endre Bálint, István Ilosvay Varga, Róbert Berény, Béla Czóbel, István Komlós, Ferenc Bolmányi, Géza Vörös, Rudolf Diener-Dénes, László Schalk, Béla Bán, István Gál, Mária Lehel, Marianne R. Gábor, Emil Kelemen and Júlia Vajda; as well as graphic artists Hugó Scheiber and N. [sic] Eppinger Weisz.

12 Apart from holding visual art exhibitions, they also edited theoretical publications, organized talks and sought to build an extensive network of contacts both with Eastern and Western Europe.

13 Hungarian psychologist, philosopher and art critic (Budapest, 1902 – Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1998).

14 Hungarian art critic, poet and art publisher (Budapest, 1904 – Paris, 1972).

15 The group was founded in 1948 and its members were Asgern Jorn, Constant, Corneille Beverloo, Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel and, a while later, Jacques Doucet, who joined them along with several others, such as painter Jean-Michel Atlan. Some of the artists from the Dutch group “Reflex/Experimentele Groep” (which also included Jacques Doucet) also participated in the Danish group “Host” and the Belgian artistic collective called “Revolutionary Surrealist Group” that existed between 1948 and 1951and which acted as an artistic melting pot.

16 The 18th European School Exhibition: Corneille’s Paintings. Hosted and inaugurated by François Gachot. Guided tour: June 22nd, by Árpád Mezei; June 29th, by Imre Pán. The exhibition features a catalog that includes texts by Pál Kiss and François Gachot. In addition, the Doucet exhibition hosted by the European School (19th exhibition): Jacques Doucet’s Paintings and Drawings. Hosted by Imre Pán; inaugurated by Pál Kiss. The exhibition featured a catalog that includes texts by Imre Pán in Hungarian language, and by Jacques Doucet, in French.

17 Verba, Andrea, “Csoportkép Szentendrével. Változó nézőpontok – állandó értékek a szentendrei művészet megítélésében, 1945–1972”. [A group picture against the background of Szentendre. Changing perspectives: constant values in the assessment of the Szentendre art, 1945–1972]. In: Judit Mazányi (ed.), XX.századi magyar művészet – Szentendréről nézve [Hungarian Art in the 20th Century: The Szentendre perspective], (A Pest Megyei Múzeumok Igazgatóságának kiállítási katalógusai 1. [Exhibition catalogs developed by the Directorate of Pest County Museums 1.]), Szentendre, 2003, p. 76.

18 The colony of artists established in Nagybánya between 1896 and 1937 became the most influential movement in the artistic life of Hungary in the early 20th century.

19 Verba, Andrea, “Csoportkép Szentendrével. Változó nézőpontok – állandó értékek a szentendrei művészet megítélésében, 1945–1972”. [A group picture against the background of Szentendre. Changing perspectives: constant values in the assessment of the Szentendre art, 1945–1972]. In: Judit Mazányi (ed.), XX.századi magyar művészet – Szentendréről nézve [Hungarian Art in the 20th Century: The Szentendre perspective], (A Pest Megyei Múzeumok Igazgatóságának kiállítási katalógusai 1. [Exhibition catalogs developed by the Directorate of Pest County Museums 1.]), Szentendre, 2003, p. 76.

20 Dutch poet and art critic (1921–2013).

21 Claudia Küssel, Corneille. A magyar kaland 1947 [Corneille. The Hungarian adventure 1947], Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 2003, p. 58.

22 Information based on a letter sent to the author by Marion Eppinger (Budapest, October 2018).

23 Personal communication by Marion Eppinger. Interview to Marion Eppinger made by the author, Budapest, November 2018.

24 One of the most remarkable artists in 20th-century Hungarian painting, he met with a tragic fate, as he became a victim of the Holocaust along with his wife. Despite having been offered help from his friends, François Gachot among them, he refused to flee from the country at the time of the persecution of Jewish people. In 1947, his old friend Gachot held a memorial exhibition of Farkas’ rich work at the National Salon in Budapest and expressed his ideas about the painter’s art in the catalog published for the occasion.

25 Dr. Károly Farkas, sculptor (1925–), immigrated to the USA in 1956, where he published his memoirs in 2003, titled Vanished by the Danube. Peace, War, Revolution, and the Flight to the West. State University of New York Press, Albany, 2003.

26 Dr. Géza Petényi (Budapest, 1889–1965), general physician and pediatrician, awarded with the Kossuth Prize (the highest honor conferred by the Hungarian state) and onetime member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Upon the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, he issued a medical certificate for Margit Eppinger Weisz’ two children (Marion and Ervin, her younger brother) attesting to an (alleged) tuberculosis infection. In practice, this meant a safeguard for children of Jewish descent, as it protected them from being sent to the ghetto or getting deported.

27 François Gachot acted as the Secretary-General of the Alliance Française, the international French organization, in Budapest. He lived in Hungary from November 1924 on. During his first years in the country, he worked as a teacher of French and later as a cultural attaché. At the same time, he was an honorary member of the European School group and a permanent art critic of their work, participating in the inauguration of their exhibitions and giving talks about them.

28 In 1947, even the Cinema Newsreel reported on the visit of Louis Aragon and her wife to Budapest: “In the context of their trip across the South-East of Europe, one the most remarkable French literary couples alive, Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet, have arrived in Hungary. They had taken up arms in defense of their country as active members of the resistance movement. Aragon is the Petőfi of the French people”.

29 Allegedly, those were the exhibitions attended –among others– by Dutch painter Corneille, who was visiting the Eppinger-Weisz family, and as he himself recalls, got acquainted with Paul Klee’s and Joan Miró’s works there.

30 Dedication by art historian Jenő Kopp (1900–1977) in the spring of 1946. In 1947, Kopp was appointed as Director of the Metropolitan Gallery Museum.

31 Writer of Romanian descent (1911–1999), he translated Hungarian poets Sándor Petőfi’s, Mihály Vörösmarty’s and Endre Ady’s works into Romanian. His published translations often included illustrations by his wife, Florica Cordescu.

32 Visual artist and illustrator of Romanian descent (1913–1965).

33 “Pour Marion en espèrant qu’elle fera du rapides progrès en français. Doucet” [For Marion, in the hope that she will make quick progress with the French language. Doucet].

The Role and Artistic Activity of Margit Eppinger Weisz

between 1945 and 1948

©2019 by Margit Eppinger Weisz.