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Ferenc Martyn - Selfportrait with pet rabbit, 1919The illustrations on the cover of The Club at Eddy's Bar are by Ferenc Martyn (1899–1986) [Selfportrait, 1919 ], an influential Hungarian artist with an Irish great-great-grandfather. Among his Irish kinsmen are Edward Martyn – novelist, playwright, and first president of Sinn Féin – and Richard Martin (often called 'Humanity Dick'), a founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Ferenc Martyn was born in Kaposvár, Hungary, in 1899. His mother died when he was five, and he grew up in the house of (and was the apprentice of) his relative, the portrait-painter József Rippl-Rónai. In World War I Martyn served in the Austro-Hungarian army on the Italian front. After the war, he studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest Kávéházban by Ferenc Martyn, 1927(under the Transylvanian artist, István Réti, among others).
In 1926, he moved to Paris. His interesting early style can be seen in images used in this book: Bisztróban /Kávéházban [ 'At the Bistro'] – on the front cover and frontispiece – was drawn in Paris in 1927; Párizsi látkép by Ferenc Martyn, 1927and the back cover shows an excerpt from his Párizsi látkép ['Parisian Scene' ], of the same year.
In 1934 he joined the international exhibiting group, Abstraction-Création, founded by artists Vantongerloo, Hélion, and Herbin, for the promotion of abstract art. Other members of that group were Irish artists Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone. This body was succeeded in 1946 by another group with the same aim, the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, and Martyn's work was featured in its 1947 exhibition in Paris. By then he had settled in Pécs, Hungary, where he spent the rest of his life.
During most of the 1950s, official discouragement of the abstract style 'Ulysses' illustration by Ferenc Martyn (IMMA, Dublin)caused him to work in some obscurity; in 1958, however, after images of ten of his works were published in Pécs in the Janus Pannonius Museum Yearbook, he came to be regarded as the foremost exponent of Hungarian abstract art; and he was a major influence in the creation of the Hungarian museum of modern art. Although primarily known as a painter, he was also a sculptor, graphic artist, Martyn Abstract, Highlanes Gallery Drogheda, Irelandand book illustrator (of James Joyce's Ulysses [], Madame Bovary, and Don Quixote, among others). He died in Pécs in 1986, where his work is on permanent display within the Janus Pannonius Múzeum in the Martyn Ferenc Múzeum.
Ferenc Martyn was generous to Ireland, and donated to it eleven of his best Paris-period works. Abstract paintings by him can be seen in the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda [right ], County Louth, in the Crawford Gallery in Cork [below left «], and Martyn Abstract, Crawford Gallery, Cork, IrelandGreyfriars Gallery in Waterford [below right »], in NUI Galway library, and in The Model Gallery (Niland Collection) in Sligo. Drawings by Martyn (24 of his 27 Ulysses illustrations) are in the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) in Dublin.Martyn Abstract, Greyfriars Gallery Waterford, Ireland

The artist's Irish ancestors, the Martyns/Martins, were one of the fourteen merchant families called 'The Tribes of Galway' [below left «] who gained wealth and power from trade with Europe between the 13th and 16th centuries, and who dominated the politics and social life of Galway during that time. The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the mid-17th century cost them their power, which they never fully regained. It was Cromwellian forces who applied to them the term 'Tribes of Galway' intending it to be derogatory; but the families later claimed it, using it 'Armorial Ensigns of the 14 Tribes of Galway' 1820with pride [].
Peter Martyn (the great-great-grandfather of the artist, born 1772 in Castlebar), emigrated (with his brothers) from Ireland in 1790, joined the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army as a Second Lieutenant Cuirassier, and advanced by 1812 to the rank of Major in Kleanu's Light Cavalry Martyn family crest, IrelandRegiment. In 1822 he retired and settled in Hungary, where he died in 1827 at Arad – the birthplace of the author of The Club at Eddy's Bar.
Ferenc Martyn married twice but had no children. In his final years he was cared for by Marianne Polgár, a friend of poet and translator Paul Sohar who assisted Zoltán Böszörményi with the adaptation into English of his novel The Club at Eddy's Bar.

[Text above © Copyright 2015 Phaeton Publishing]

[Click here to return to the webpage of THE CLUB AT EDDY'S BAR by Zoltán BÖSZÖRMÉNYI (with drawings by ferenc MARTYN), where there is a Book Trailer video featuring Ferenc Martyn's drawing Kávéházban, and set to Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.2]

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