Jozsef Rippl-Ronai
A Park at Night

A Park at Night
József Rippl-Rónai (1861-1927)
A Park at Night
Between 1892 and 1895
Pastel on paper, pasted on canvas
H. 38.4; W. 46.2 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Un parc la nuit [A Park at Night]


After starting his training in Munich, Rippl-Ronai came to Paris where he worked for three years in the studio of his fellow countryman, the painter Munkacsy. But a stay in Pont-Aven in 1889 and his discovery of Gauguin's work led him to break with his master. He then joined the Nabis, and made friends with Maillol, as is shown by the portrait of the sculptor painted by the "Hungarian Nabi" in the Musée d'Orsay.

This pastel dates from his Parisian period also known as "the black period", during which Rippl-Ronai exhibited with the Nabis. The work shows a nocturnal landscape, empty of all human figures. Only the lights suggest the presence of houses and roads.
The trees in the foreground, treated like a photographic negative, pale against a dark background, add a disquieting touch to this unidentified landscape. The title, A Park at Night gives a vague sense of the surroundings. But the place remains unclear. Is it Paris or some other town? The cast-iron lamp posts argue for Paris. The recurring motif of the tree trunks gives the pastel an uneasy feeling, because like ghosts they are vertical and vaporous.

This theme of vague anxiety can be compared with the atmosphere often described by the Belgian symbolists. Spilliaert springs to mind or Degouve de Nuncques' pastel Night in the Royal Park in Brussels, also in the Musée d'Orsay.




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