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The collection of the Museum of Fine Arts has been augmented with a masterpiece by one of the foremost Impressionist artists: Auguste Renoir. The museum was able to buy the master’s Reclining Nude through the support of the Hungarian Government. Renoir’s Reclining Nude was already displayed in Hungary more than 110 years ago: at a National Salon exhibition in 1907, but at the time the museum did not have the necessary funds to acquire it. Now, thanks to the generous support of the Government, Renoir’s masterpiece can return to Budapest and find its permanent home in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts: the nude will debut at a dossier exhibition organised around this historic acquisition.
In 1907, the National Salon held a series of three major exhibitions, all associated with shows that were touring Europe to popularise the latest achievements in French painting. Pride of place at the first show, held in May, was occupied by the works of Paul Gauguin. In June the second exhibition arrived, initiated by the leaders of the Museum of Fine Arts, which had opened just a few months earlier (in December 1906). Their aim was to look for potential new acquisitions for the museum’s collection, and the state approved the purchase of five paintings: a work each by Charles-François Daubigny, Eugène Boudin, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro, as well as Paul Gauguin’s Winter Landscape. The latter deserves a special mention, because it was only the previous year, at the great exhibition in Paris, that the European public became aware of Paul Gauguin’s name. (The painting by Sisley was later given to the Berlin art dealer, Kurt Walter Bachstitz, in part exchange for Édouard Manet’s masterpiece, Lady with a Fan). In December 1907, Budapest’s third exhibition of French painting that year, Great Modern French Masters, attracted enormous attention and provided visitors with a comprehensive idea of the painterly reforms taking place in Paris. Following the purchases made that summer, however, the Museum of Fine Arts no longer had the means to enrich its collection further.
The December show featured eleven paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, including his Female Nude (listed in the catalogue as a Woman at Rest), one of the highlights of the exhibition. Now, after a century and a decade, thanks to generous support from the Hungarian government, the painting has finally been purchased for the Museum of Fine Arts.
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Renoir’s masterpiece in our collection