Housed within the grand Baroque complex of Buda Castle, the Hungarian National Gallery is a cluster of imposing Neoclassical staterooms crowned by a regal verdigris dome. Inside, the four-wing repository unites everything from French impressionist masters such as Cézanne to contemporary Hungarian sculptors to create a compellingly rich permanent collection. With over 10,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints on display, there’s plenty to peruse here. Our handpicked edit of the highlights at the Hungarian National Gallery points you in the direction of its most noteworthy treasures.
Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers is one of the most important proponents of abstract graphic art. Deceptively simple but mesmerising to contemplate, Light Grey Wall comprises rectangular monochromatic forms layered to resemble a cassette tape.
Famed for his large-scale biblical paintings, Mihály Munkácsy is one of Hungary’s most esteemed artists. But it’s his depictions of everyday folk that are most captivating. The light, shade and tone of Woman Carrying Brushwood conveys a melancholic world-weariness that transcends centuries.
You can’t miss Hungarian artist Mariann Imre’s giant Saint Cecilia installation, a mirage-like re-imagining of Stefano Maderno’s statue of the same name, but in concrete and Plexiglas. Hundreds of transparent knotted threads appear to create an ethereal body suspended in mid-air.
Painted at the peak of the Impressionist period, The Buffet is a beautiful example of Cézanne’s legendary still life compositions. It contains all his usual suspects: a crumpled tea towel, a handful of orchard fruit and a good bottle of red.
A striking piece of modern sculpture in lead and aluminium from Hungarian sculptor Erzsébet Schaár, Sisters depicts two almost life-sized women standing back to back, with interwoven hair. Disconcerting and eerie, it was inspired by the death of Schaár’s own sister.
This elegant portrait is a snapshot of Renoir’s later years when he adopted a looser, freer brush stroke. The model’s long, ribbon-tied hair and voluminous white blouse add romantic texture to this truly captivating work.
The iconic dome at the Hungarian National Gallery may not be an exhibit in itself, but the view from the top certainly rivals what’s beneath it. The Dome Terrace is the best vantage point in the city with 180-degree panoramas, reaching far over the Danube and across to Pest.
Carved in white marble by Hungarian sculptor Ödön Moiret, Venus Anadyomene shows Aphrodite rising from the sea. Unlike most representations where she emerges from a shell, here she elegantly unfurls her limbs as if newly born from the water.
Part art, part science, contemporary Hungarian artist Attila Csörgő’s Hemisphere V installation is an optical marvel, with a golden spiral of light twisting down to create a dome of kinetic energy.
Camille Pissarro’s Impressionist depiction of The Pont Neuf catapults the viewer into fin de siècle Paris. From the window of his hotel room, Pissarro painted the crowd flowing across the broad span of the bridge resulting in a work that bustles with life.