Bernáth Buffet

Article cover picture

Erkel Theatre is home to two important pieces of art: both paintings on the buffet walls on the 1st floor are works by Aurél Bernáth.

The two-time Kossuth Award-recipient painter, graphic artist, and art teacher started painting at the recommendation of Ödön Rippl-Rónai. He studied under István Réti and János Thorma in Baia Mare, and then moved to Vienna in 1921, later to Berlin, and finally settled in Piešťany in 1927. The Budapest Hall of Art and the Ernst Museum regularly hold exhibitions of his work. He was a member of the New Company of Fine Artists and a leader of the Gresham Company, and went on to teach at the Hungarian College of Fine Arts. 

The work on the first floor is entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is an al fresco work. The Tragedy of Man uses a secco technique and was completed in 1973. Gilded rosettes run between them on the ceiling. The pictures derive their themes from the eponymous works of William Shakespeare and Imre Madách, respectively. Even though neither are illustrations that depict specific scenes from either of the pieces, both are easily identifiable. The more than one hundred square metre works are protected as monuments.

The room is transformed into a social hub mainly during intermissions. However, thanks to its excellent attributes and its variability, it is an important venue for a number of important events at other times as well. Audience members coming to see inaugural performances of various productions are just as at home as dinner guests during Gala performances, toddlers and their parents arriving to attend the Sing Along Baby programmes, viewers interested in children’s programmes or special chamber pieces, and teachers coming to attend conferences or continuing education events. This colourful cavalcade is overseen by the watchful eyes of the greatest opera composers looking down on the guests from the walls above the buffet, who have been here since they were immortalised by Aurél Bernáth in 1961: Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Mussorgsky, Verdi, Wagner, Mozart and Gluck all enjoy themselves here.