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Elizabeth Brunner







Fairy Tales around

27th September 1996

Elizabeth tell us stories about some paintings going to the Hungarian Millecentenarium



Friday 27th September 1996

            Elizabeth was in her usual sweet mood this afternoon and visibly happy that we could be together for a little while. A lovely young lady, Ms. Monika Bincsik, had come from Hungary. She was to help Elizabeth to select the paintings for the big Hungarian festival 'Budapest Spring Festival of Arts'. Her own paintings as well as her mother's. I could see many paintings standing in the room, orderly placed in piles of paintings 'from Santiniketan', 'from Japan', 'from Hungary', 'from other places in India' etc. 

Elizabeth with Monika Bincsik

            Elizabeth asked Dagmar to pick up one painting her mother had painted. "Your mother's painting, called 'A Room With Furniture', painted in 1914," Dagmar read out from the back of the painting, "and you were four years old." "Yes," replied Elizabeth, "you see, they gave us this room always when we stayed with grandfather in his house in Nagykanizsa. Two bed rooms, one of them the one in the painting. You can see the metal folding bed which my parents used to fold up and take with them to Munich, remember?" Dagmar remembered. Elizabeth carried on, "the sofa-chairs are from my mothers aunt. And my bed was on the right hand side of their bed, you cannot see it."

...'The sofa-chairs are from my mothers aunt. And my bed was on the right hand side, you cannot see it'...

The landscape on the back of the very same painting

            Dagmar asked, "Elizabeth, you mentioned before that this was the time when your mother had already those terrible headaches?" Elizabeth said, "yes! Usually by eleven o'clock in the morning she had to have a rest.

            So in the house everybody was busy somehow, nobody attending to me. So I went into the bedroom and I saw my mother sleeping. But my hands didn't reach her on the bed to wake her up (I was too small). So I went to the fire-place, there in front of it where some fire-irons. I got hold of one of the tongs. I went back to the bed and on my toes I reached mother and knocked her on the head with that thing. Poor mother, she woke up with a start and was surprised about her little daughter ..." And Dagmar mused, " ... and here and now I can see the surroundings of your childhood in the painting."

            "You see, in this painting there are so many things," Elizabeth carried on. "but I have forgotten the names of the painters of the paintings on the wall. You see, my father and his friends, same age artists, they always used to exchange each others paintings. So all those paintings are from various people. And on the table there is a sculpture of a monkey. By Imre Simay, the famous artist. The Austrian monarch purchased his monkey. Simay became very famous. By the way, they often painted on both sides of the canvas, (I suppose because of shortage of money). Turn the painting over please." And Dagmar saw to her surprise another painting of trees on the other side.

            Elizabeth carried on, "Simay was the Director of the Graphics Department of the 'Iparmüveszeti Föiskola' (School of Applied Arts), one of the best schools for art in Budapest. A friend of the family. Nagykanizsa was his birthplace also, and once a year he would come and spend a month or two there. Then they would sit evenings together. I would be in a corner ... and talk ... to my brother in heaven ... and then they would ask me what was his name. I did not know ... Imre Simay remained a friend even when I came to Budapest to study and he helped me.

            Now the house is broken down in Nagykanizsa."

Dagmar gently asked, "your grandfather's house is no more?" Elizabeth confirmed, "the house and the whole area was broken down to make room for a new road."

            Dagmar asked, "and who is the lady in nude?" Elizabeth answered, "my mother, painted by my father."


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Copyright © Dagmar Barua 1997 Sass Brunner East West Trust, 75, Rabindra Nagar, New Delhi - 110 003