Ink Drawings from “The Great Sonata” Series

Lajos Kozma

Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
Budapest, Hungary

Lajos Kozma made a series of drawings in 1908 made up of thirty pages entitled “The Great Sonata”. Twenty-three of these are held at the Museum of Applied Arts, while the rest have been lost or are forgotten somewhere. (The parchment cover page for the series of drawings is also in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts, inv. no. KRTF 2173). The periodical Magyar Iparművészet (Hungarian Applied Arts) published two drawings from the series with the titles “The Village Is Dying” and “The City Is Born” (pp. 310–311) in 1913 as illustrations to Lajos Kozma’s essay “The New Direction for the Development of the Applied Arts”. According to the captions, the drawings were illustrations made for the “volume of poems entitled The Great Sonata”, while the French caption in the same place lists the drawings as illustrations of a poem by Endre Ady (“Illustration pour un poeme de E. Ady”). (The aforementioned two drawings are not amongst the 23 held in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts.) According to recent research, the series of drawings actually cannot be linked to a single work by Ady. Thus, these strongly stylized drawings with a lyric atmosphere that reflect the influences of the Wiener Werkstätte and Beardsley are not actually illustrations, but an independent series of images. Kozma planned on publishing the series of drawings as a separate album, perhaps as a continuation of his book Utolsó Ábrándok – Melódiák (Final Reveries – Melodies), but this did not come to fruition. Kozma first presented this series of drawings at the second exhibition of KÉVE (Magyar Képzőművészek és Iparművészek Egyesülete – Hungarian Association of Fine and Applied Artists) organized at the National Salon in the autumn of 1909. The exhibition catalogue lists 29 pages of the cycle starting with serial number 169, with the following titles: 169. Great Sonata. Title page, 170. Dedication, 171. Inspiration (Prelude), 172. The Great Galeotto, 173. The Man with Rose Petals, 174. Abandoned, 175. Dream Vision, 176. The Great Longing, 177. The Earth Speaks (Intermezzo I), 178. The City Answers (Intermezzo II), 179. I Prostrate Myself before the Suffering of the World, 180. Wedding, 181. Premonition of Death, 182. Past, 183. Return, 184. Future, 185. The Village Is Dying (Intermezzo I), 186. The City Is Born (Intermezzo II), 187. Rose Girls, 188. Wilting, 189. Madonna, 190. Motherhood, 191. Those Who Die If They Love, 192. Emptiness, 193. Burial, 194. Black Hour, 195. Great Sonata. Epilogue. Lot, 196. The Great Sonata, 197. The Great Enlightenment. Although the series of drawings in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts is in all certainty the same as the cycle displayed at the KÉVE exhibition in 1909, the above titles cannot be clearly linked to individual drawings without further support, and the connection between the title and the subject of the drawing is only clear in a few cases.


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