RUDOLF MERENYI (1883 – 1957) Hungarian artist

Thursday, January 23, 2014 by

Rudolf Merenyi was a painter, graphic illustrator and etcher who worked in Budapest. He exhibited at the Budapest Salon in 1926 and had a collection of his own drawings shown there in 1925 also. He was taught by some of the best artists in Hungary of the time, but apart from these brief details I can find out no more about him – as is often the case with Hungarian artists working between the Wars, and into the Communist period.

In so far as Merenyi has any fame, it was for his erotic figure drawings, which are sold regularly at auction houses specializing in erotic art. His self-portrait (see is perhaps rather flattering in style.

At a large antique market on the outskirts of Budapest recently, I found this fine study of his featuring two Italian Bracco heads. It is an etching, framed rather oddly so that only the impressed line beneath is visible – normally an etching would be framed with all four impressed lines showing. The signature is clearly visible, although the print is not dated. We took it apart to clean the glass and mount, although I did not handle it too much – it would appear to have been worked over by the artist in soft pencil. It is 30 cm x 23 cm, within the mount, so a good size.

I would imagine that the drawing was done in the 1920s or 30s although, really, the date is anyone’s guess. Several things about it are remarkable, and intriguing. One is the quality of the drawing, which is superb. The bitch on the right, (surely a female), has the median line of the head caught beautifully and subtly, with wonderful expression. The dog on the left is noble and full of character.

Another is that these dogs are clearly Bracci Italiani, but this is a breed that would not have been at all well known in Hungary at any time. I used to be able to obtain old copies of the Hungarian dog magazine “Kutya” (Dog) from 1960s – 80s. These magazines were aimed at the show dog community, small as it would have been then, and was firmly predicated on hunting and working breeds, particularly national breeds. Yet I never once saw a photo of a Bracco Italiano.

Devotees of this beautiful HPR breed usually claim that it has been depicted in art for many centuries although, in fact, I have never seen any. Probably anyone reading this will hasten to correct me – notwithstanding, here is a superb double head study from the first part of the 20th century, which must be of considerable rarity and of great interest to anyone who loves the breed.

Perhaps they were dogs owned by friends of the artist, or perhaps they were his own dogs. Given Merenyi’s specialism of erotic figure drawing, (he was very skilled at it), one does wonder how this picture came about. I have found, on the internet, only one other study of his featuring dogs – this one of a young woman with two beautifully depicted, elegant Borzois (see (scroll down)). It is described by the auction house as an original but looks, again, very much like a coloured etching that has been cropped for framing far too closely. =

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