Geniuses and Masterpiseces II.

Sea Battles: Veronese, Turner, Kandinsky

1 February 2006 - 1 March 2006

The Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, celebrating its centenary, presents in the second instalment of the chamber exhibition series Geniuses and Masterpieces three paintings depicting sea battles. The three masterpieces, deriving from three different eras, provide a remarkable opportunity to view the illustration of diverse artistic approaches to one and the same subject matter, dissimilar ways of seeing spanning the course of three centuries.

Paolo Veronese (1528·1588) painted The Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto to the memory of the triumph of the Christian Holly League destroying the Ottoman naval fleet in 1571 at Lepanto. The canvas preserving the most brilliant military success of the 16th century, breaking the spell of Turkish domination, painted by the youngest representative of the Venetian Renaissance painting trio, was lent by the Accademia, Venice for the exhibition.

On the painting lent by the Tate London, William Turner (1775·1851) has portrayed the most important sea battle of the Napoleonic Wars, in his second sketch for The Battle at Trafalgar, establishing British naval superiority for a century. The sea battle furnished the most outstanding landscape painter of Romanticism a magnificent opportunity to seize the simultaneously formidable and mysterious powers of nature in their extraordinary picturesqueness, through his favoured motifs: the maelstrom, smoke, vapour and the waves.

Improvisation 31 by Vasily Kandinsky (1866·1944), bearing the subtitle: Sea Battle, attaches hardly anything to his vision. The painter was not inspired by a concrete event, but constructed from autonomous, abstract forms. In the painting lent by the National Gallery, Washington, there are merely faint references to a sea battle: he was inspired by musical harmonies, and spots of coloured paint all told evoke distant, playful associations to a sea battle.

Curator of the exhibition: Ferenc Tóth