World Coins

Hungarian Impressionist painter and his art on two new coins

Hungary celebrates Pál Szinyei Merse, an Impressionist painter, with two new collector coins, including the copper-nickel 2,000-forint version shown here.

Images courtesy of the Hungarian Central Bank

Pál Szinyei Merse, one of the earliest practitioners in the school of Hungarian and Central European Impressionism, is commemorated on a pair of coins released by the Hungarian Mint on the 175th anniversary of his birth, July 4, 1845.

Szinyei began his studies at the Munich Art Academy in 1864, and by 1869 his early sketches already revealed his search for new ways of expression. He won a gold medal at the 1873 World Fair in Vienna for his painting Bath House, but his main work from that period, Picnic, was met with little enthusiasm.

He returned to his family estate and it was not until 1896 that his work began to receive wide recognition. He then resumed the life of an artist and won numerous gold and silver medals (1896 Budapest, 1900 Paris, 1901 Munich, 1904 St. Louis, 1910 Berlin, 1911 Rome).

In 1908 he was one of the founders of the first society of modern art in Hungary, the Circle of Hungarian Impressionists and Naturalists.

Szinyei paintings are the basis for both sides of the two coins, which are identical in design, differing only in face value and metallic composition.

The obverse design is based on his 1882 work The Balloon (Léghajó in Hungarian), now part of the collection of the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest.

The painting symbolizes freedom in art and thought, but is not too abstract. The numbers used for the denomination reflect the form of the balloon.

The reverse replicates Self-portrait in a Leather Jacket, a 1897 work now in Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The legends on the reverse — SZINYEI MERSE PÁL and the dates 1845–1920 on the left, and the mark of designer Borbála Szanyi on the right — are creatively integrated into the trunks of the trees.

Both coins measure 38.61 millimeters in diameter and each is limited to a mintage of 5,000 pieces.

The Proof .925 fine silver 10,000-forint piece weighs 31.46 grams. The Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel 2,000-forint coin weighs 30.8 grams.

The silver coin is priced at $67.50, and the base metal coin, at $19.95. Shipping is extra.

To order, contact the Coin & Currency Institute.

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