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Views of Albion

The Reception of British Art and Design in Central Europe, 1890–1918


Andrzej Szczerski

Views of Albion is the first comprehensive study of the reception of British art and design in Central Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. The author proposes a new map of European Art Nouveau, where direct contacts between peripheral cultures were more significant than the influence of Paris. These new patterns of artistic exchange, often without historic precedence, gave art during this period its unique character and dynamism.
Beginning with an analysis of the concept of Central Europe, the book examines knowledge about British art and design in the region. In subsequent chapters the author looks at the reception of the Pre-Raphaelites in painting and graphic arts as well as analysing diverse responses to the Arts and Crafts Movement in Germany, Austria, Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary and Southern Slavic countries. The epilogue reveals the British interest in Central Europe, echoed in the designs Walter Crane, Charles Robert Ashbee and publications of The Studio.
The book questions the insularity of British culture and offers new insights into art and design of Central Europe at the fin de siècle. It presents the region as a vital part of the international Art Nouveau, but also shows its specific features, visible in the works of artists such as Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt and Stanisław Wyspiański.
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CHAPTER 8: Hungary


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Hungary played an exceptional role among Central European nations in the reception of British art and design in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries1 Around the year 1900, no other cultural centre in the region came close in terms of following the British model in forming and shaping key aspects of artistic life or theoretical foundations of artistic development. The Hungarian anglomania remained unique and did not influence the image of British culture in other Central European communities. Its main component was a will to modernize Hungary according to British standards, and to make the country a partner equal to other major European powers in politics and civilization.

Hungary had been watching Great Britain closely as a model of civilization ever since the late eighteenth century and that attention then became a crucial element in forming Hungarian political, economic, and cultural life throughout the nineteenth century.2 Hungarians saw a civilizational community between themselves and Great Britain, as allegedly confirmed in the chronological coincidence of the introduction of privileges for the ← 323 | 324 → gentry (the English Magna Carta of 1215, and the Hungarian Golden Bull of 1222), that were in both cases recognized as foundational for the traditions of individual freedom and local governance. Two men became symbols of the connection between Hungary and Great Britain. The first was István Széchenyi (1791–1860), in his days the key Hungarian politician and statesman, who suggested that Hungarians should learn...

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