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Fashion and Culture of the 1840s on Show at New Budapest Exhibition

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The Petőfi Literary Museum’s new exhibition “The World of Beauty – Fashion and Culture in Reform-era Pest,” open from Thursday, offers a glimpse into the world of 1840s Pest (eastern part of today’s Budapest) through fashion magazines and clothing.

The press release issued by the museum writes that the Hungarian reform era was marked by economic, social, and cultural revival, and fashion was perceived as part of culture. Therefore, the exhibition presents the role of fashion magazines on three levels of the public sphere: the press, the city, and the home.

The Hungarian and German-language fashion magazines were important players in the heyday of the reform era. They were linked to the emergence of the modern literary public and press, to civilization, to the empowerment of women, to Hungarian industry, but also to the process of Hungarian and European self-determination.

The exhibition therefore draws on images and texts from Honderü, Életképek, Pesti Divatlap, Der Spiegel, and Der Ungar, magazines that entertained and shaped the minds, tastes, and sense of community of their readers. With their help, the exhibition evokes the city, the home, social life, and the press, and their relationship to each other.

In addition to the fashion magazines, the selection includes paintings, prints, caricatures, objects, and pieces of clothing from the period.

In addition to well-known authors and artists, the exhibition also includes some of the lesser-known artists of the period.

The public will also be able to see specialties such as a rare and colorful woman’s dress from the Wosinsky Mór Museum in Szekszárd, a fancy men’s dress on loan from the Royal Palace in Gödöllő, or a portrait of composer Ferenc Liszt with his signature, distributed by the Pesti Divatlap and owned by the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum.

Visitors can also listen to music from the scores once published in fashion magazines.

On June 22, the Night of the Museums will also feature a program of events linked to the “World of Beauty.” Curatorial guided tours will start in the late afternoon, and fashion expert and journalist Bence Csalár will also give a lecture in the museum’s banqueting hall.

The exhibition is open until March 31, 2025.

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Via MTI, Featured image: Facebook/Petőfi Irodalmi Múzeum / Zsolt Birtalan, PIM


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