Budapest’s Hidden-Gem Museums: the Miksa Róth Memorial House
Photo : Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest
07/2/2017, 4:31 PM●3-minute article
During Europe’s belle-époque era, Hungarian artist Miksa Róth was one of the continent’s top stained-glass masters, and his colorful works still brighten monumental Budapest buildings to this day, like the Parliament and the Gresham Palace. Today Miksa Róth’s former home is a brilliant display space showcasing many of his best stained-glass pieces alongside the artist’s equally impressive mosaics, as well as his family’s tastefully designed living spaces full of carefully preserved original furniture, all housed within an understated building in Budapest’s District VII near Keleti Station.
A significant figure of Hungarian stained-glass and mosaic art, Miksa Róth was born in 1865. His grandfather and father had both made a living in the glass-cutting trade, and he started to carry on the family business at a young age, but Miksa Róth wanted to do something more with his skills than simply create windows. He learned the basics of glasswork in his father’s workshop, and after his studies in Budapest, he set off on a journey through Western Europe, collecting new materials and drawing ornamental cathedral windows in Germany, Belgium, France, and England, before returning to Hungary to make copies of them here.
Miksa Róth’s immense talent was widely recognized and sought-after by the late 1800s, and since this was the greatest boom period in Budapest history, he was commissioned to provide stained-glass windows for many monumental new buildings that still stand and proudly feature his works today, including the Parliament and the Gresham Palace. Influenced by the Art Nouveau style prevalent during Europe’s belle-époque era, Róth’s glass works often presented curvaceous scenes of nature that brightened up interiors of urban palaces, including his own home where he moved in with his family in 1910, in which we can find this especially charming little museum today. The street-side building served as their home, while high-quality glass windows and mosaics were made in the courtyard workshop. Three rooms of the building that were preserved in their original condition allow visitors to travel through time to admire the home of this respected artist.
As a prosperous artist, he purchased the house on Nefelejcs Street from furniture-maker Sámuel Gelb, which he then had refashioned to fit his family’s needs by the excellent architect Samu Pecz. This is where the “Róth Miksa Császári és Királyi Udvari Üvegfestő és Mozaik Művész Műintézete” (“Work Institute of Imperial and Royal Stained Glass and Mosaic Artist Miksa Róth”) was operating until 1939.
The courtyard houses a three-story brick building, where once 20 people worked. The furnaces were on the ground floor, while people worked on the glasswork and mosaics on the other floors. The now ten-year-old KÉK – Contemporary Architecture Center was operating in this building for a long time in recent years, but today, it unfortunately stands empty.
The museum’s main attraction is the three rooms that remained in their original condition. A great deal of the furniture in the living room, bedroom, and study were designed or produced by Róth himself. All interior items reflect quality and elegance, yet don’t feel pretentious; the rooms are instead characterized by subtle bourgeois modesty.
We can find the glass paintings and mosaics in the area next to the apartment and on the ground floor. Some of these originate from the collection of Róth, while some were made by the master himself. These artworks that remained in the family’s possession bear witness of stunning craftsmanship.
Photo: Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest 19 pictures
The whole exhibition space is very friendly. The tour guides are kind and knowledgeable, not to mention their excellent English proficiency. So, this small exhibition is definitely worth a visit, both because of its atmosphere and because of the exhibited works’ delicate quality.