|Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here at the Christian Museum at Esztergom and it is a real honour for me to be asked by the organizers to do the opening speech for
the exhibition ‘Historical and Contemporary Tapestries in Hungary’.
|As the title of the exhibition says, you will see a combination of old and newly created
tapestries. The museum has an interesting collection of Flemish pieces, woven in Tournai,
Oudenaarde and Brussels. They cover a period of several centuries and show different subjects. If
you visit the exhibition you also will see different styles. The Tournai-tapestry from the end of the
century with the Calvary shows Christ at the cross, with big figures around Him, filling the
whole composition and showing only a little bit of landscape in the far distance.
|From the end of the 16 century are The Betrothal of David and Bathsheba and
Alexander the Great before the high priest Jaddua. Those are Oudenaarde tapestries with big
figures in an open landscape rolling out in the back, and with a wide luxurious border around the
central scene. Also from Oudenaarde, from the beginning of the 17th
century, is the piece with
Scenes from the Story of Judas Maccabeus. It shows a lot of action and has a wonderful border with
water and ducks at the bottom, landscapes with animals at the sides and sky with birds at the top
|In the 16 century Brussels was the most important tapestry centre in Flanders, and I
should say in Europe, and it would hold that position during several centuries. From the luxurious
pre-Renaissance period the Christian Museum owns the Triumphal March of the Trinity. The richly
clothed figures are not so stiff as in the Tournai tapestry and they have more realistic faces. The
exhibition shows another Brussels tapestry you all know from the Web of Europe- project: Mercury
hands over the infant Bacchus to the Nymphs, from the collection of the Museum of Decorative
Arts in Budapest. It dates from around 1700 and shows, sitting in a landscape, figures in robes with
Baroque drapery and a wide Baroque border with vases, flowers and animals.
|With this Web of Europe- project we come to the connection between historical and
contemporary tapestries and to the creation and weaving of tapestries in the 20th century up till
today. Weather you are admiring an old or a new tapestry, you can look at it the same way: what is
represented, how is the composition, what colours have been used, how is it woven... but also: what
kind of feeling does it bring up in me when I am looking at it, what does it do with me? And that is
what art is about. I don’t make the distinction here between ‘decorative art’ or ‘fine art’. The
contemporary Hungarian tapestry weavers are artists who have chosen this medium to express
themselves. They use a century – old tradition, because big painters like Raphael, Peter Paul
Rubens, François Boucher and many many others, have made designs for tapestries.
|Although the representation of the figures, the animals and the nature in Creation, The
Flight into Egypt and Birth of Venus by Noemi Ferenczi, are more or less ‘naive’, these tapestries
from the beginning of the 20th century still catch our attention.
|It is interesting to see how you can use the same way of looking at historical and at
modern tapestries: from a distance and from close by. You want to get the whole picture, the whole
overview first, but you also get attracted to see the details and how it was woven. This certainly is
the case with the contemporary tapestries you see at this exhibition.
|Although with Ildiko Dobranyi, the country lost one of its major tapestry artists, it is a
pleasure to see how tapestry is still flourishing in Hungary. The selection in this exhibition also
shows the quality of the Hungarian tapestry artists and makes us realize how important they are
within the European context of the last 50 years.
|I want to express my hope Hungarian artists will continue to create such beautiful and
interesting tapestries, whether they are figurative or abstract.
|Finally, I want to congratulate the organizers of this exhibition and all the selected
artists for this wonderful presentation here at the Christian Museum.
|Thank you for your attention.
|Dr Elsje Janssen, Director of Collections at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Belgium