One of Szentendre’s most popular museums presents the oeuvre of Kossuth Prize-laureate ceramic artist Margit Kovács (1902–1977). The artist, who was among those who revitalized Hungarian ceramic art, donated the selection on view here to the Museum in 1972. Most of the works, over 300 in all, are figural compositions.
The collection presenting the oeuvre of the Kossuth-prize laureate master of Hungarian ceramic art Margit Kovács was opened in 1973. Originally built as a salt office, the 17th-century Baroque building of the museum later functioned as a post station, and then as a trading house, before becoming the home of the Vastaghs. The Görög Street facade bears a row of windows with trellises. In 2008 a new, multifunction wing was added to the building, the design of Szentendre architect József Kocsis. The motifs of the ceramic cladding of the Greek Street facade—the work of Szentendre artists Tamás Asszonyi, Róbert Csíkszentmihályi, Tamás Szabó and Zoltán Szentirmai—reference Kovács’s work and the Renaissance ornament on the corner of the adjacent listed building.
The style of Margit Kovács’s ceramic art changed several times in the course of her long career. Roll Girl (1933–34), which has associations to medieval sculpture, is a typical example of the expressive treatment of surfaces that marked her work in the early 1930s. Alongside a geometricizing trend (Gugelhupf Madonna, 1938), her figures became more and more slender, pillar-like, in the 1940s (The Good Shepard, 1942). By this time, the works, whose theme was biblical, moralizing or folk poetry-inspired, also employed matte, coloured engobe (clay coating) along with the colour glazes. Some of the works she made in the 1930s and 1940s, whose themes are biblical, are wall panels in a Byzantine mood (Annunciation, 1938; Last Supper, 1935), while the rest are statues made on the potter’s wheel.
She modelled her functional objects (jugs, bowls, vases) with unmatched ingenuity. Her Wedding Day Stove (1953) fuses figurative scenes with the folk ornamental heritage. In the 1950s, peasant genre scenes came to dominate her work. Besides the tile compositions and reliefs with genre scenes (Apple Harvest, 1952; Peasant Wedding, 1955), the same period saw realistically toned, large thrown figures (Spinner, 1953), which were in compliance with the requirements of cultural policy-makers.
The rustic statues and reliefs she made in the 1960s and 1970s from coarser clay evoke Greek mythology, archaic stories, and folk legends (Cantata Profana, 1969).
The first and second rooms of the museum present smaller sketches, the early years of Kovács’s career. The third room features her work in the 1950s, the forth pieces from her mature period. The vaulted basement of the old building, which is reminiscent of sacred spaces and has always been furnished, in accordance with Margit Kovács’s wish, like a chapel, is home to those of her works that follow the Christian iconography.
The first floor gallery of the new wing presents a reconstruction of the artist’s home on Pozsonyi Rd, while the room overlooking Görög Street offers an overview of the last period of Margit Kovács’s art.