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The Balloon

Pál Szinyei Merse1878

Hungarian National Gallery

Hungarian National Gallery

Deliberately opposed to the public tastes worshipping traditions blindly. Szinyei left Munich after completing Picnic in May and did not return before his old age when he was given an award. Instead of going to France like several of his compatriots to draw inspiration for his innovative art, he withdrew to his native land to get married. The growing family, the everyday cares and the uninspiring village environment at Jernye prevented him from profound artistic absrption. In 1878, however, the boldness of his youthful paintings gushed forth again: his optimistic mood is proven by one of his most orogonal themes, the Balloon. He was seriously intrigued by technical innovations – during his academic years he tried to contruct an airplane – so his brother-in-law’s balloon trip immediately electrified him. He would have gladly joined him, for a man flying high need not be interested in the trifling affairs of his fellowmen swarming down ont he ground. That is how the floating airship overcoming the force of gravity became the symbol of the flight of human thought and artistic freedom.

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