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Strážky and Ladislav Mednyanszky

4. October 2008 — 12. April 2009
Kaštieľ Strážky, Spišská Belá-Strážky
Curators: Katarína Beňová, Katarína Kolbiarz Chmelinová

The Slovak national gallery because of the occasion of the 60th anniversary prepared for the visitors of the castle in Strážky the changed exposition of the gender gallery and Mednyanszky artworks.

The permanent exhibition of Ladislav Mednyánszky in Strážky new artworks from the collection of SNG are displayed, some of them such as the Italian mountain landscape is presented for the first time since the Great exhibition in 2004. The complementing of the exhibition is the part of archival documents, photos, and other documents which complete the knowledge about the life and creation of a painter Ladislav Mednyánszky as well as his family, friends and the mansion itself and specially his library. The exhibition is supplemented by a set of contemporary clothing which probably came from the family of Mednyánszky and Czóbel.

In 1551 Ferdinand I. donated the mansion in Strážky to the family of Horváth-Stansith, originating from Croatian Gradec, by right of merit of defending the castle Sihoť in anti-Turkish wars. The first part of the mansion's illustrious history is connected with this aristocratic family owning the castle until the early 19th century. Subsequently, the mansion was owned by the Szirmay family, and the Mednyánszky and Czóbel family.

In 1972, after the death of the last baroness Margaret Czóbel, the mansion came under the administration of the Slovak national gallery which made available in the mansion in 1991 the permanent exhibitions about the mansion, historical library, life and work of a painter Ladislav Mednyánszky.

Ladislav Mednyánszky (1852 - 1919) is one of the main representatives of Central European painting of the last third of the 19th and early 20th century. The castle in Strážky managed by the Slovak national gallery is the only place in Slovakia, where the permanent exhibition of artworks of the artist is presented.

The exhibition is documented with the strong bond between L. Mednyánszky and Strážky. His life and work is connected with Strážky. He spent here the bigger part of his childhood and during his life he constantly returned here. Also the only permanent studio, which his father built for him above the economic wing, was located in the space of the family residence.

The exhibition of Mednyánszky artworks in Strážky presents the artistic development of the painter mainly in 1900, while his main theme was neighborhood in Strážky and Tatra-mountain scenery. The landscape of Mednyánszky responded to the contemporary influences mainly of French landscape painting called "intimate landscape" which Mednyánsky transformed into his own artistic expression. His foundations became the statement of impressions of the observed country, which reflected his state of mind.

The first section of the exhibition presents just the early period of a painter, connected with the Tatra motives and also the first portraits of local peasants, grooms and coachmen, distinctive types of men who Mednyánsky as "weak person" greatly admired.

In the second part of the exposition are artworks mainly from 1880's with themes of the forest nooks, the characters on the bridge inspired by surroundings of Strážky. Not only the landscape, but also a number of preserved portraits and portrait studies give the complete picture of Mednyánszky creation.

The unique collection is a group called unfinished works, mostly portraits, which Mednyánszky after capturing the basic forms left in the unfinished version.

The third part responds to the turbulent period around 1895, when the father of the artist passed away. Bearing up with the death became in this period his main theme which is documented by the motives of death, spirits and melancholy themes.

Another theme is represented by the works with war motives. Mednyánszky was actively participated in the First World War as a war draftsman, who captured not only the horrors of war, but also the daily life in the camps, and he often connected the figural genre with landscapes.

The exhibition is supplemented also with the artworks in the area of the hallway, where mainly the landscape artworks with large-format are displayed; they are especially from the creative period until 1900. The artworks show different approaches to the perception of the country from classically-reached to expressive painting. The collection is complemented by the artworks of the painter's student, the Spiš painter Ferdinand Katona (1864 - 1932), who was largely inspired by his teacher.


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