Following is a translation of a commemorative speech by the hungarian painter János Vaszary as appeared in Pesti Naplo, 4 February 1928.
Joszef Rippl-Ronai was born in the country side of Hungary, where the words of people sound like ancient musical instruments, where the pagans, for a long time, continued to sacrifice on their Hun altars. The ancient Land of Hungary, which was the highest background of his genius, was also a perpetual recall to the land of his fathers. Paris and Europe, for Rippl-Ronai as was for Endre Ady, were just a forest in which was easier the discover of his hungarian essence.
We discovered the importance of his work. We recognized in him the hero of the hungarian talented artist who was able to receive, as fecund soil, the european culture. We welcomed him as superb example of the ancient strength of the race, who was able to transform thinks and to find in them the original flavour.
Too late his talent as recognized. [...]. Munkacsy protected him for a period of time. Rippl-Ronai was certain that he finally found his own road, soon he left his protector.
He discovered the nature as a transformable and usable element, and, as a consequence, he gave no real importance to the paintings of his time. [...]
We can find Ronai together with the most interesting artistic revolution of his time, just similar to what happens at present days. In that period began that magnificent and global artistic ideology transformation which just now reach its climax, in abstraction and dissolution.
Those outstanding pictures such as “Woman with cage”, “woman with a vase”, Portrait of grandmother”, “Woman with white pois garnishment”and “Portrait of the artist’s family” represent them all the first original expression of his own experiences in Paris. Those paintings have a decorative aspect, a monumental intention: they are so different to what he defined under the term Impressionism.
From Munchen he brought with him the naturalism, academic and typical of the muenchner artistic tradition. In Paris he knew not only the Impressionism, but also the japan art which, in that period, was influencing work of artists such as Lautrec and Degas. Is not absolutely my intention to reduce the Ronai own artistic production into a scheme, however I think would be important investigate all the movements which influenced it.
We can affirm that paintings such as “Woman with vase”and “Woman with cage”not only were influenced by the japan artistic tradition. Those paintings, with large surfaces, wouldn’t be possible if not in an european context. He was an admirer of the bi-dimensional and decorative asiatic art, and not only for passionate instinct but also because he felt their surprising and innovative value.[...]
He usually kept in touch with young french impressionist painters, within a complex artisic background. Bonnard was a decorative artist, Lautrec was influenced by japan art, Maillol by archaic art, Denis painted works at same time monumental and decorative, Vuillard was a pointilliste.
The works by Ronai are connected with those of the Impressionists. This style was developed by Rippl-Ronai until he introduced as an his own invention a painting technique he called real time painting.
After 1900 he returned definitely in Hungary and, after, he came in Paris just for short periods of time.
The contact with the land of his fathers and with the hungarian countryside influenced the second half of his artistic career, until his death.
In this period he was mostly influenced by Impressionism, and the paintings are at the same level to those painted in Paris. This was either the highest moment of his artistic career and the period of his maximum productivity.
He kept in touch with hungarian artistic movements and he found that the new style, the new taste for whom he fought and suffered, were about to widespread. He bagan to conquer his own public, surrounded by true friends.His name was better known every day [...]
He had several attitudes in common with french artists, he was sensual, critical, brilliant and rational, he approached decorativism and he gave importance to formal values. He liked order just like a french bourgeois, maybe because he had a difficult youths and, as a consequence, he disliked the bohemian lifestyle. [...]Ronai was able to manage to every kind of material, such as oil painting, pastels, watercolor: his own style and originality can be found in every work.
The quality of his art maybe depends by the fact that he suffered a lot. He hadn’t particular appreciations until the age of 46. This was caused not by lack of talent but by the fact that the hungarian painting were ruled for several years by rigid schemes, empty and without feeling, obsolete, which were connected to conservatism of german painting.
Ronai was able to disrupt the academic prejudices with his own exhibitions. He fought against conservatism, and between the new painting of Ronai and the german art linked with Munchen, there was such a difference that lot of people reacted with indignation. Ronai, notwithstanding his reactions, proceeded with his own research, with his own artistic fate, with the brave of innovators.
He was one of the first who can be considered pioneer of the birth of a new artistic world, which was growing with its revolutionary spirit. This new artistic attitude can’t be really properly considered even today, for its real importance, because its own borders are the general intellectual renewing of humanity.