National Gallery in Budapest exhibits art of epic Hungarian history

The Hungarian capital of Budapest is a popular destination for those who love high art and culture. Its sumptuous National Gallery is famed across Europe, and now it’s putting on a new exhibition highlighting the nation’s history.

Heroes, Kings, Saints – Pictures and Memories of Hungarian History brings together some of the masterpieces of 19th century Hungarian painting. This was a high point in Hungarian art and a time when artists looked to the past for inspiration. Several rarely seen works of art will be on display, including Conquest (The entry of the Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin) painted by Mihály Munkácsy in in 1893 for the Hungarian parliament.

Part of this epic painting is shown above, courtesy Marta Pataki. The original is 15 meters (49 feet) long.

The exhibition was opened this week by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The exhibition marks Hungary’s new constitution, which came into effect at the beginning of the year. An article in the Guardian notes that while Orbán was opening the exhibit, thousands demonstrated outside the gallery against what they say are his increasingly authoritarian tendencies and the new Constitution’s granting of more power to the executive.

With the nation so deep in crisis, Orbán’s every move, even appearing at a gallery opening, are subject to public comment.

Heroes, Kings, Saints – Pictures and Memories of Hungarian History runs until August 26.