Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: When cats fly and other flights of fancy

As we wandered rooted to the ground, so many winged creatures hovered above us.

The raven symbolic of King Matthias Corvinus. Angels, cherubs and griffins galore.

Warlike eagles. The falconer so grim he appears ready to man a guillotine.

Fantastical animals derived from their creators’ nightmares.

A contemporary breasted owl suspended above giant lips is no more whimsical than a centuries-old Icarus-type figure bearing the soles of a saint.

 

Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: ‘Art is long; life is short.’

The grandson and son of glass-cutters, Miksa Roth (1865-1944) wanted to move beyond craftsmanship to high art. He traveled on his own to learn from examples created by European masters. Upon his return to Budapest, he found himself in the midst of a building boom, with Art Nouveau and, later, Art Deco works in high demand.

Roth’s glass and mosaic pieces are found in the Parliament Building, Saint Stephen’s Basilica, the Agricultural Museum and the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music. Outside of Budapest, he executed an opalescent glass dome designed by Geza Maroti for the National Theater of Mexico and glass works in the Royal Palace of the Netherlands and in churches throughout Europe. He was awarded a silver medal in the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 and Grand Prizes in Turin and in St. Louis in 1904.

Roth moved into his home in Budapest in 1910, and a large building in the courtyard doubled as the Work Institute of Imperial and Royal Stained Glass and Mosaic Artist Roth Miksa (In Hungary, surnames precede given names.). During its peak, the workshop employed as many as 30 assistants.

The house, now a museum, features three rooms filled with furniture he designed and mosaics, stained glass and glass paintings of his as well as some he collected on travels throughout his career.

The intimate house museum is small, but the pieces inside are stunning and well worth a detour to Nefelejc Street.