Mária Goszthony was born in Bárdibükk on 22 August in 1893. Her father was a famous lawyer and counsellor in Pest and a university private teacher. He had a prestigious law firm in Budapest, and a more than a thousand-acre land in Bárdibükk. He married Marianne Csiszár in 1889; she was regarded as a sociable and socially sensitive woman. Their first child Mihály Goszthony Jr. became a lawyer following his father. The family lived mostly in Budapest, in a palace near Erzsébet Bridge, but they always spent summers in Bárdibükk. According to customs of the era, Mária was educated in the most appropriate way; an army of private teachers was at her service. In 1906, she met Ida Josipvich in a dance school, and she became her most faithful friend and colleague later. After her graduation, Mária went on a European round tour with her mother. They visited Florence, Milan, Paris and Munich as well, which was a determinant journey for a girl who was interested in arts. She could study oil painting during a winter in Munich. As of 1917, she learned in the Képzőművészeti Szabadiskola (private art school) in Haris Lane in Budapest. Her master teachers were Károly Kernstok, József Rippl-Rónai and Márk Vedres. Rippl-Rónai’s influence can be felt in her self-portrait significantly, but she considered Károly Kernstok her real master.
Art – movement
In 1916, she joined the Social-Democrat Party and turned to the lectures of Vasárnapi Kör (Sunday Circle) interestedly. Besides the movements of the period, she excelled in her social sensitivity as well. She applied for nursing when the world war broke out; she studied Russian from language books at night in order to be able to speak with the dying Russian soldiers. According to her recollections, her relationship with socialism was inborn; she just wanted to respond to the injustices of life.
During the Council Republic in 1919, an art colony was established in Nyergesújfalu with Kernstok’s leadership, in which Mária helped his master. Her charcoal and tint drawings and oil paintings made between 1917 and 1919 fitted to the artistic approach of the era. Her works are characterised by formal perspicacity, lively and stable line tracing and colour management. After the fall of the Council Republic, she had to emigrate. She moved to Vienna, and later to Villach, near the Austrian border at the foot of the Alps, where she spent almost a year. Expressive lyrical landscape watercolours and tint drawings guard the memory of her time spent here. She managed to travel to Italy again in 1920. She spent longer periods in Florence, Assisi and Perugia as well.
Fiorenza – Italy in Bárdibükk
Mária’s “activist work” had a negative influence on the public opinion about her family, and her father had to give up his lawyer practice. Finally, in 1923, after her parents’ mediation, the “converted sinner” received private amnesty from Governor Horthy personally. Thus, she could return to her parents’ property in Bárdibükk. That time she started blossoming out, worked continuously and spent summers in Rome with her friend Ida Josipovich. Mária began as a painter, but later she turned to ceramic art. She established a workshop together with her cousin Sarolta and friend Ida. They created all kinds of ceramics: vases, statuettes and even plates.
Mixing the classical Haban pottery style with the traditional motifs of the Hungarian pottery, they developed their own style. After that the land property and the castle were taken away from her family in 1944, Mária had to take care of her parents, thus the success of her ceramic works became crucial. Their artworks were sold via the Iparművészeti Vállalat (Applied Art Company) and the Képcsarnok (Art Gallery). They were marked with a letter “F” that hides the name Fiorenza, and was the fancy name of the workshop in Bárdibükk – referring to Florence. After her role in 1919, she did not have any relations with politics, but it could not be a coincidence that she left her family heritage of Bárdibükk, the workshop of Bárdibükk, to commonwealth.
Translated by Zita Aknai
H. Bognár Zsuzsa művészettörténész Szerep és alkotás című - Goszthony Mária Emlékkönyv 1893 - 1989, Rippl-Rónai Múzeum 2004.