Art Nouveau Bestiary of the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

By Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The Museum of Applied
Arts has combined the genre of medieval bestiaries, which had origins dating
back to antiquity, with the museum’s rich collection of Art Nouveau works. We have collected fantastic beings, half-animal,
half-human hybrids, and creatures from ancient mythology that represent the
inexhaustible and unmatched artistic endeavors of Art Nouveau, which are sometimes strikingly charming and sometimes
menacingly appalling.

Works of Art Nouveau drew inspiration from
innumerable sources, antitypes, and impulses, and certain themes and motifs
appeared with particular frequency. This includes the portrayal of animals,
such as the peacock, the butterfly, the dragonfly, the bat, or the snake,
whether in a naturalistic or abstract manner, often combined with the figure of
the femme fatale. Fabulous and
bizarre creatures that had sprung from the imagination were also amongst the
favorite topics of Art Nouveau.

The earliest objects
from our selection made up of thirty-two items are from around 1873, so were made
under the aegis of Historicism and Eclecticism. However, the stylistic features
of Art Nouveau can already be
detected in certain details

Jewelry design (1899) by Krieger, Béla GyulaMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

"Behold this vile, infesting mob
Thousand-legged, hundred-eyed:
Animalcules, insects, mites,
And microbes more marvelous
Than the seven wonders of the world
And Rosemunda’s palace!"

Guillaume Apollinaire, The Bestiary, or Procession of Orpheus, trans. X. J. Kennedy, (Baltimore [Maryland, USA]: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011)

Sketch for an advertisement - for Károly Peitsik Photographer's Shop (1902) by Csányi, KárolyMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The Art Nouveau bestiary is divided into four major thematic units, alluding to the arrangement of medieval examples, and presents the fantastic creatures according to their habitats:

I. Creatures of the water: attendants of Neptune, sea horses, mermaids

II.1. Creatures of the sky: dragons, griffons, phoenixes, harpies, sirens

II.2. Creatures of the sky: butterflies, dragonflies, fairies, cherubs, putti

III. Hybrid creatures of the ground: fauns, satyrs, centaurs, monsters

IV. Béla Krieger’s world of fantasy: “chimeras and beasts”

Decorative glass - With a winged sea horse (before 1873) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Creatures of the water: attendants of Neptune, sea horses, mermaids

Centrepiece - with the allegory of Earth and Water (1885-1895) by Jules-Paul BrateauMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Centrepiece
- with the allegory of Earth and Water

An oval,
bulging bowl with the rim curving inwards. The domed surface is decorated
with relief ornaments: at the short sides, there are naked female figures
rising above the rim, representing the earth and water. The Earth sits among
redweed, cornflowers and wheat, reaching towards a coiling lizard on the
side, while the mermaid on the other side reaches for a fish. This bowl is
one of the five works of art that were bought from Jules-Paul Brateau by the
Budapest Museum of Applied Arts at the 1900 Paris International Exhibition
(see Inv.Nos. 42,51,52,53, 57 a-b).

Ornamental plate - with mermaid (1920 körül) by René Jules LaliqueMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest


Ornamental
plate - with mermaid

René Jules Lalique (1860–1945) was an extremely versatile goldsmith, jewelry and glass designer who studied in Paris and then London. His works, which are sometimes astonishing and based on imaginative material association, testify to the knowledge of Japanese art. Lalique’s works were more widely known to the public at the 1900 Paris World's Fair, where he was immediately awarded a Grand Prix. His attention later gradually turned to the diversified fields of glass design, in 1918, he founded his glass factory in Wingen-sur-Moder (Alsace), which still operates today, where he used etched and opalescent glass. The ornamental plate, which suggests the elegance of art deco, and decorated with the shape of a mermaid, imitating opal stone in its material was made Wingen-sur-Moder too. The silhouette of the graceful female figure, which stands out from the foams, is emphasized by the decoration, which evokes water bubbles.

Design - table centrepiece from two angles (ca. 1900) by Nagy, LázárMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Creatures of the sky: dragons, griffons, phoenixes,
harpies, sirens

Photo album (before 1873) by Johann Franz KnippMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Photo
album

The
surface of the front plate of the brown leather binding shows an applied
ornament of a unique technique: leather intarsia is placed in the empty
compartments of a pierced, gilt copper plate. It is similar to cloisonné
enamel in its effect. The con-fronting, symmetrical decoration of the centre
shows two confronting griffins sitting on two branches of a flower stem.
There are butterflies between the curved, flowery tendrils. The back plate is
enframed with blind-stamped lines, just like the compartments of the
five-banded spine. The endpaper is made of bright white paper, imitating
moiré silk the headband is sewn of blue and white silk thread. The thick
cardboard pages of the book are enframed with gold they are prepared to hold
photos of various shapes and sizes and are bound together separately, with
the help of blue silk stripes. The edges are tooled in gold.

Ornamental jug - with dragon (1882-1883) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Ornamental
jug - with dragon

The
elongated ball-shaped body ends in a slim neck and a splaying top rim with a
spout. The dragon figure, which shapes the handle, is almost standing on the
body of the jug, enclosing the neck with its neck and head. The shape follows
Chinese models. The unique glaze of dark brown spots against the
pinkish-yellow base is a revival of the so-called tortoiseshell
glaze, one of the soft porcelain glazes that are
coloured in the material. Teréz Zsolnay's remarks in her notebook (JPM
Inv.No. 1578-91-1584), at façon number 787, that the shape was designed in
January 1882, and produced with the so-called tiger
glaze from March 1883.

Salon cupboard (1902) by Leopold BauerMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Salon cupboard

The cupboard stands on a narrow, rectangular foot veneered with hammered bronze sheet. The standing prismatic bottom part hides six drawers and supports the wider prismatic top which has three doors. The whole surface is decorated with checked inlay, divided by small oval fields. On the outside of the right door, in the middle, there is a relief depicting mermaids resting among rose boughs. This cupboard, made by Leopold Bauer, is a richer variant of the original that was exhibited at the 15th Art Nouveau Exhibition in Vienna. On the original there were no ovals enriching the chessboard decoration of the top.

Jewelry design - knot pin (1902) by Darilek, HenrikMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest


Jewelry
design - knot pin

The designs for the knotpin, the pendant, the ring and the tie pin were made at the same time, as parts of a series. The clear lines of the elegant sketches reveal that Darilek was the follower of Viennese Secession patterns “with a light hand”. Among the four, it is the knotpin design that shows the richest fantasy. Creating a knot on the neck or pinning the hair loosely on the top of the head was a popular hairstyle of the turn of the century. This hairpin is decorated with a fantasy dragon figure. Its ceramic body is covered with tiny, colourful precious stones. The setting of the stones is similar on the other pieces that were probably enriched with enamel painting. These sketches were made by Darilek at Pécs, while he was a designer of the Zsolnay factory.

Ornamental plate - with Saint George (1882) by Zsolnay, JúliaMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Ornamental plate - with Saint George

The concave surface of the plate shows a picture in a flowery frame, drawn after an engraving of A. Dürer. The fine, lazure painting of the border creates an interesting contrast with the rough golden surface, just like the polychrome, richly decorated border and the drawn, colourless, spacey centre. The original drawing depicts Saint George on horseback, holding a spear in his hand. His helmet is surrounded by halo the corpse of the dragon is at his feet. The thistle motif of the "Japanese" border is also present in the background. The coloured design in the Janus Pannonius Museum of Pécs (Inv.No. A. 61.452.34) has an A.Dürer 1508 inscription as well. The marked façon number is 470, the decor number is 909. In Teréz Zsolnay's notebook (JPM Inv.No. 1578-91- 1584) the design of the dish is dated 1878, in nine different size and with various decors, up to 1889. The redesigner of the engraving was possibly Kelemen Kaldeway, while the border can be connected to the activity of Julia Zsolnay.

Box - with figurative scenes of the Niebelung Song (ca. 1901) by Franz BoeresMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Box

The
rectangular box stands on four prismatic feet. The edges of the cover are
lined with applied ornaments, enriched with small marble balls. The sides are
decorated with figurative scenes of the Niebelung Song. The other parts of
the surface are covered with stylized, floral ornaments. The feet and the
border of the cover are decorated with copper rivets.

Vase - with decoration imitating so-called Saracen (Arabic) silk fabric (1894-1895) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Vase -
with decoration imitating so-called Saracen (Arabic) silk fabric

Preparing
for the year of the Millennium (1896), researching the origin and style of
the Hungarians, several special patterns were created in the Zsolnay factory
in Pécs, which were combined with the iridescent eosin glaze technique. The
decoration, which consists of figures of griffins and phoenixes sitting on
palmette-leaf tendrils, imitates the pattern of a North African “Saracen”
(Arabic) silk fabric preserved in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna. The
ornamentation was published in Pattern Book of Friedrich Fischbach,
titled Ornamente der Gewebe (Hanau
1874). (Fig. 96/A – see here and here)

Vase - with decoration imitating so-called Saracen (Arabic) silk fabric (1894-1896) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Vase -
with decoration imitating so-called Saracen (Arabic) silk fabric

The
oriental decor – included griffins, dragons, qilin and palmette-leafs –
adorning the Zsolnay vase, imitates the pattern of a 13th-century North
African “Saracen” (Arabic) silk fabric preserved in the Museum of Applied
Arts in Vienna. The ornamentation was published in Pattern Book of Friedrich
Fischbach, titled Ornamente der Gewebe (Hanau 1874). (Fig. 15/B – see here and here)

Vase - with Millennium decoration (1895-1896) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Vase -
with Millennium decoration

The
pattern of a tenth century Byzantine silk drape was painted on the surface of
the vase, depicting the characters of the Epic of Gilgamesh, based on a
contemporary publication and sample book (its original can be found in the
treasury of the Sens cathedral in France). This artefact is part of the
Zsolnay factory set of objects that renewed the objects of the legendary past
in an imaginary, romantic fashion. It resembles the ornamental clothing of
the Hungarians migrating into their new homeland, and the Oriental origin of
the ancestors. With the new eosin technique, the reduced calcination metal
lustres with silver and copper oxide content the replication of the silk-like
material was also attempted.

Pewter inkwell (ca. 1899) by Maurice MaignanMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Creatures of the sky: butterflies, dragonflies, fairies, cherubs, putti

Fan with Venus (1875-1885) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Fan

The very plain, pastel-green ground is divided into five fields by spiral ornamentation reaching down from the strip of lace bordering its upper edge. In the middle a female figure (Venus?) very lightly and loosely dressed and resting in a hammock is making a winged putto (Amor?) with hands tied behind his back kneel in punishment beside a flower-cup. On either side there are two fields, in each of which a winged putto is playing on a swing among the flowers. Behind the right-hand guard-stick is the mark: Alexandre. The chatoyant sticks bear Late Baroque ornamentation.

Medal - Orpheus (1898) by Alexandre-Lucien CoudrayMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest


Medal -
Orpheus

Front: the bust of a young man with long hair, looking to the left (Orpheus). He hugs his lyre with his left hand. Back: in the centre, a naked, winged young man sits on an empty inscription plate enframed by laurel boughs. He holds a trumpet in his left and a pen in his right hand. There is a scroll of music notes in front of him, and a violin below the plate. A copy of this piece was bought by Jenő Radisics at the 1900 Paris International Exhibition, from Coudray, who had won a silver medal. The Orpheus medal is one of the most well-known among Coudray's works.

Wall lamp - The Dragon-fly (1895-1900) by Frédéric Eugéne PiatMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest


Wall
lamp - The Dragon-fly

The naked female figure has a delicately modelled, twisted shape. She holds irises in her hands, with bulb sockets in the blossoms. Originally it was enriched with gold, silvery, greenish and purple lustre colours.

Pendant with chain (c.1900) by René Jules LaliqueMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Pendant
with chain

The
female nude figure of the pendant is made from etched glass, and is attached
to a thin chain passed through the woman’s golden cascade of hair. The
shoulders of the figure are covered by a colourful cloak, the bottom of which
is decorated with miniature diamonds placed in groups of three among flowers.
The artistic composition is executed in a virtuoso technique, especially in
the decoration of the cloak. The framework of the cloak is formed by an
openwork floral pattern, leafy vines, and flowers, which are filled with
greenish, bluish and violet-coloured plique-a-jour enamel. 

This method results in an effect similar to stained glass windows: when lit from behind, the colours of the enamel gleam. This complex technique of translucent enamel was used in the Middle Ages, but forgotten after the Renaissance. A jeweller, Andre Fernand Thesmar (1843–1912), rediscovered plique-a-jour enamel and began exhibiting objects made using this method in the 1870s. The technique became one of the hallmarks of Art Nouveau jewellery.

While Thesmar used opaque enamel, Lalique (1860–1945) worked with translucent plique-a-jour enamel, recognizing its capacity to produce powerful, glowing colours. The inspiration behind the present jewel was the emblematic Parisian dancer of the period, Loie Fuller (1862–1928), whose famed choreography of 1895, the Danse serpentine, was performed in a similar, cloak-like veil.

Book - Shakespeare, William: The Tempest. Decorated by Robert Anning Bell (1902 (London)) by Robert Anning Bell (illustrator)Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Book -
Shakespeare, William: The Tempest. Decorated by Robert Anning Bell (London,
1902)

The
front board is decorated with a finely curved, gilt network of tendrils that
spring from the bottom stem and end in maple leaf-like ornaments. In the
middle, there is a vellucent panel resembling the shape of a bud or flower
blossom: a female figure with butterfly wings, standing on a globe and
holding a peacock feather ornamented stick in each of her hands, in front of
a double-bordered, and jointed, greenish-yellow background. The butterfly
wings are enriched with mother-of-pearl inlays. The back board is without
decoration, except for the line running along the edges. The title - THE
TEMPEST - is on the spine, framed with tendrils. The doublures are bordered
by double lines, with a circle on the middle of the sides that is repeated
three times in the corners, enriched with a maple-leaf motif. The endpaper is
red, the headband is sewn with red and yellow. The head edges are gilt and
punched with flower tendril ornaments.

Vase - with faun head (ca. 1910) by Telcs, EdeMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Hybrid creatures of the ground: fauns,
satyrs, centaurs, monsters

Ex-libris (bookplate) - J. Post (ca. 1895) by Vincent Aubrey BeardsleyMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Ex-libris
(bookplate) - J. Post

Lines,
white and black spots, an indicative illustration of trees and lake are
characteristic of the idyllic landscape presented on this drawing. It shows
an elegant semi-reclining lady figure and a faun with vine leaf wreath,
reading. In the organic, fantasy-filled Art Nouveau, mythological figures
representing partly the human, partly the animal world were fairly popular.
The same composition was designed for a book cover (the fifth volume of The
Yellow Book), and also, with some changes and a richer landscape background,
for the ex libris of Aladar Erdey, in 1895. There was a Beardsley- exhibition
in the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts in 1907, in which a selection of the
illustrations for The Yellow Book magazine, which Beardsley was founder and
manager of, was also presented.

Ex-libris (bookplate) - Emil Orlik (1897) by Emil OrlikMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Ex-libris
(bookplate) - Emil Orlik

Orlik's
personal ex libris introduces the special double-sided nature of his
personality, with tragicomic contrasts, and piercing irony. It depicts a
Faun’s face with a laughing and a crying eye, and an owl wearing a clown's
cap. His profession is referred to by the brush and the chisel - in 1896, he
studied woodcuts with B, Pánkok, and later he became one of the innovators of
graphic design. His decorative but simple ex libris pieces were mainly built
on the humorous or richly imaginative application of a few symbolic motifs.

Vase - with faun head (ca. 1910) by Telcs, EdeMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest


Vase -
with faun head

The object reflects both the function of a vase and the typical characteristics of statuettes as means of decoration. The “faun” is a popular figure of symbolism its dynamic, naturalistic interpretation matches well the excessive curves of the vase. Contemporary critics established some common features between this piece and the bronze ox head vase, made by Elza Kövesházi-Kalmár and owned by the Hungarian National Gallery.

Sketch for an advertisement - for Károly Peitsik Photographer's Shop (1902) by Csányi, KárolyMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Sketch
for an advertisement - for Károly Peitsik Photographer's Shop

The
drawing was in the catalogue of the 1902 Christmas exhibition of the Society
for Applied Arts. It was one of the advertisements that provided publicity
for the exhibiting or sponsoring companies. The work of the young architect,
Károly Csányi was among famous artists', such as Sándor Apáti Abt, Ferenc
Helbing, Aladár Kriesch, Géza Maróti (Rintel), Oszkár Tarján (Huber) or Ede
Wigand. The advertisement filled a whole printed page in the catalogue, its
top third decorated with a drawing that radiates sensual humour. It is a
cartoon of the Arcadian idyll so popular at the turn of the century: the
photographer, as a voyeur hidden in a faun figure, is watching the careless,
yet appealing gesture of the wonderful nymph. The drawing made use of
monochrome print technology. The dark patch of foliage on the two sides are
framed by stressed, double borders. The hand-drawn letters in the bottom
field are aligned to the left. However, it lacks the text originally planned
on the right side, making the originally symmetrically arranged composition
asymmetrical.

Vase - with the depiction of the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs (1919-1921) by UnknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Vase -
with the depiction of the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs

The
depiction of the battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs running along the
body of the vase was made using a dipped acid technique referred to as
oroplastic decoration. According to the story, Pirithous, the King of the
Lapiths married Hippodamia and invited his half brothers to the wedding, the
Centaurs of Thessaly. At the wedding, the centaurs, elated from wine, began
to attack the women, after which a battle broke out between the Lapiths and
Centaurs, which led to many deaths on both sides, and ended with the
expulsion of the Centuars from the region. (See: Ovid: Metamorphoses, XII. 235.)

Ex-libris (bookplate) - Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs Secession (1900-1903) by Gusttav KlimtMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Ex-libris
(bookplate) - Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs Secession
(Association of Fine Artists Austrian Art Nouveau)

Klimt
was the most significant personality of Austrian Art Nouveau, one of the
founders of the Wiener Secession (1897). The members of this artist group
were characterized by a special cult of Pallas Athena the figure of the
mythological goddess appeared on the poster of their first exhibition, as
well as on the coverplate of the catalogue (1898). The bust of Pallas Athena
was also put on the ex libris of the Wiener Secession. This composition is
identical with the poster design for the 18th Art Nouveau exhibition. Klimt's
interpretation of the Pallas Athena picture is characterized by the duality
of white and black, positive and negative, appeal and repulsion - the dual
nature of feminity, represented by the Medusa head below Athena's portrait.

Table - part of the so called 'Fairy tale' suite, Toroczkai Wigand, Ede, ca. 1912, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
Show lessRead more

Armchair - part of the so called 'Fairy tale' suite (ca. 1912) by Toroczkai Wigand, EdeMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

'Fairy tale' suite -Armchair, Chair, Table 

Although
Ede Torockai Wigand (1869-1945) originally trained to be a decorative
painter, his unquenchable thirst for knowledge led him to try his hand at the
most diverse fields of art. It was as a furniture designer, however, that he
reaped the highest rewards. His early pieces were inspired by international
Art Nouveau, as well as the Arts and Crafts movement from England. Later, he
acquired a taste for the forms and decorative motifs of Hungarian folk art,
and increasingly turned his attention to the world of fables and fairytales. 

He spent several years in Transylvania, especially in the part called Székely Land, studying the characteristic features of the local folk-art traditions. His interests and his imagination led to the creation of this rustic set of furniture, which combines traditional Székely carpentry structures with carved figures from folk tales. He designed these pieces for his own home, and a picture of them was included in the book he published in 1916, titled The Decorative Courtyard [Hímes udvar].

Chair - part of the so called 'Fairy tale' suite (ca. 1912) by Toroczkai, Wigand EdeMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Plaque - Witch (1910) by Telcs, EdeMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Plaque -
Witch

The
plaque depicts a naked young woman, bending to the left. There is a monster
kneeling behind her legs, playing his flute trunk. To the right, there is a
flying bat. This was the 1910 membership gift of the Association of Medal
Collectors and Friends. The above piece was numbered 94. It is published by
Huszár-Procopius 1932 No. 6099. Its silver copy can be found in the
collection of the Hungarian National Gallery Inv.No. 56.631-P (see Cat. 1993a
No. 179 with ill. and previous literature). There are two bronze copies in
the Numismatic Collection of the HNM (Inv.Nos. N.III.1486 and É.N.144,
A/1910), and also a silver one (Inv.No. É.N.12.A/1911). For the ill. see Nagy
1981 No.938.

Jewelry design (1899) by Krieger, Béla GyulaMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Béla Krieger’s world of fantasy: “chimeras and beasts”

Jewelry
design

Béla
Krieger enjoyed a general succes in 1884 with his etchings made for the
catalogue of the Goldsmiths' Exhibition in Budapest, although it revealed
only his abilities of precise observation and authentic imitation. His own,
individual artistic world was developed later, with his slightly grotesque,
artistic sketches. Among them there are plenty of jewellery designs but in
this case, the friction of belt buckles, pendants and hairpins plays only a
secondary role. The stress is on the excessively coiling motifs-well-known
and popular, yet unusual in his individual interpretation. On his designs,
the calm butterflies almost fly away; the snakes with their precious stone
eyes fascinate the audience. The dynamic, moving shapes are coupled with
bright colours. Krieger's art had significant success in Paris: the Guérinet
company published one-hundred and thirty of his designs similar to (and
including) the exhibited ones, with the title “La Chimere et l'Animal et leur
application omamentale á l'art du bijou”.

Design - knife handles (1899) by Krieger, Béla GyulaMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Design - knife handles

The artistic designs of Béla Krieger lead the viewer into the world of Fantasy. His sketch books abound with monsters, wonderful, fairy creatures. His knife handles in this case show the head of a snake, a crocodile, a lion and an eagle, and although stylized, they seem to be alive. All lines in his drawings radiate motion and dynamism.

Credits: Story

Piroska Novák, Sarolta Sztankovics

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps