“He was the Cézanne and the Gauguin of Hungarian painting”
Renovation of the Rippl-Rónai’s villa in Kaposvár
Rippl-Rónai’s villa is now officially known as the József Rippl-Rónai Memorial House and Visitor Centre. Its collection and exhibitions are managed by the art history department of its parent museum based in Kaposvár and every year works by Rippl-Rónai are given on loan for major exhibitions abroad. The museum has a staff of 48 and an annual budget of 140 million forints. The operational budget for the villa has so far been 10 million, but that is expected to double due to the new Visitor Centre. József Rippl-Rónai purchased the villa and its land on Rome Hill in 1908 for 14,510 crowns and later obtained a further 11 acres or so of arable land from his neighbours. The modern, worldly-wise artist who frequented Paris was extremely happy to adopt the antiquated lifestyle of a county smallholder. Rippl-Rónai lived on the estate with his French companion and later wife, Lazarine, who came from a small French village, together with their adopted daughter Paris Anella, who was also French and whom they brought up jointly. They also took in two of his orphaned relatives, the Martyn boys. The artist lived in the so-called Rome villa until his death there in 1927. The place has thus been preserving his estate, furnishings and other objects for nearly a century. The villa has been renovated several times and is in good condition but it was rather small for the purposes of a museum, so the local town and county authorities jointly tendered for the use of EU funds for refurbishment and the establishment of a visitor centre. They were successful and the renewal and extension of the villa was undertaken with about 210 million forints in EU support, plus 50 million allocated by the town of Kaposvár. The visitor centre virtually mirrors the studio and its building in form and setting.