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Amál Berde - Biography

Amál Berde lived through the “most turbulent periods of Hungarian history”, yet she never lost her faith. She is remembered as one of the most outstanding painters of the age alongside János Thorma and Imre Nagy. Ethnographical collections she made in Székely Land (Székelyföld), Rimetea (Torockó) and Țara Călatei (Kalotaszeg) are significant, while her paintings depicting folk life and local costumes are invaluable as documentary evidence of a bygone age.

The painter of fiery tones was born in Câțcău (Kackó) on 15 December 1886. Her father was a minister and she was the second child. She showed skill in drawing and painting even in her childhood, and her talent quickly raised her above her contemporaries. However, we know from her early diaries that sometimes her paintings were marked down by teachers, something that saddened the teenaged girl.

She completed teacher training in Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár) in 1906, and then went on to study in Budapest under Károly Kernstok and in Vienna until 1910. In the same year she exhibited in front of an international audience, in London, to be followed by her pictures appearing in numerous shows. Together with her sister Mária, she won a ministry scholarship and continued her studies at the Debsitz school in Munich, where she came into contact with the latest trends of the German school. She made head and nude studies, and later she drew landscapes using charcoal and pencil. In 1910, she married Ferenc Dóczy, who graduated from the mathematics-physics and theology faculties of Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár) university, where they had originally met.

Between 1914 and 1920, Amál spent time at the Baia Mare (Nagybánya) free school, studying alongside János Thorma each summer. This is when she truly came into close contact with nature; her genre paintings and landscapes reveal many of the traits of the Baia Mare (Nagybánya) school. Impressionism had a major impact on her, as did the methods of artistic expression of Monet, Renoir and Cezanne. Subjects of her paintings are mainly focused on village life in Transylvania, and her deep cultural awareness is reflected in her works. During this time she held the post of drawing teacher at the Bethlen Gábor College, Aiud (Nagyenyed), where her husband later held the title of rector professor. Initially she was inspired by the Rimetea (Torockó) landscape, and after her move to Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár) she was entranced by Țara Călatei (Kalotaszeg), while later her interest extended to Székely Land (Székelyföld), birthplace of her father. Her first individual exhibition opened in Transylvania in the early 1920s. Her pictures are characterized by vigorous and harmonic tones, patchwork-like brushwork and balanced composition. Her master, János, Thorma, wrote thus about her skills:

“Take good care of this great gift given by nature, because the painter can learn everything, but this one thing nobody can acquire through study, who was not born with it.”
In Baia Mare (Nagybánya) she took part in the exhibition arranged in the winter of 1924-1925, but by that time she was attending the artist colony as an independent artist. During the interwar period she was a member of the Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely) Kemény Zsigmond Society and Bucharest Society of Fine Arts, following which she presented her works at several individual and group exhibitions. (1947: Transylvanian Fine Arts Salon, Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár); 1957: Woman Artists, Melbourne; 1971: Grand Gallery, Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár)).

Articles she wrote on folk art and her illustrations were published in the periodicals Ellenzék, Pásztortűz, Zord Idő, Erdélyi Helikon and Keleti Újság. Folklore material of Țara Călatei (Kalotaszeg) is examined in her comedy Asszonyfarsang (Lady’s Carnival); her historical drama Bujdosó királyasszony (Queen in Exile) is about Izabella, widow of János Szapolyai. She created a valuable, rich oeuvre over the course of a long life (she was still painting in her eighties). Her canvases are on display in museums in Budapest, Debrecen and Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely). She died in 1976, three days before her ninetieth birthday.
Source of the photo: reformatus.hu