Since the end of the 9th century of our era, when Magyars settled in the Carpathian Basin, there have been several changes not only in Hungary's form of government, her capital, and the makeup of her inhabitants, but even in the country's borders and size. Nonetheless Hungarian art may be described in the familiar terminology of stylistic history used in the study of Western European art. Most of the novelties arose in response to royal or ecclesiastic initiatives, although in every period we find unique phenomena such as the Saint Ladislas legend depicted in medieval frescoes, the Matthias Corvinus symbolism pervading the entire Renaissance period, or the Grassalkovich-type Baroque country residence named after prince Antal Grassalkovich's castle at Gödöllő. A domestic demand for a national culture that arose in the 19th century soon resulted in a never before seen upswing in the arts and by the early 20th century internationally recognized masterworks were created chiefly in the fields of photography, the art of the poster, and various applied arts. From 1948 until 1989 the political situation relegated many artists to the categories of proscribed or tolerated art, limiting theexhibition of their works to a semi-official sphere.
The five well-known authors of this volume - Gábor Bellák and Árpád Mikó (Hungarian National Gallery), János Jernyei Kiss (Pázmány Péter Catholic University), Katalin Keserü (Eötvös Loránd University) and Béla Zsolt Szakács (Pázmány Péter Catholic University and Central European University) - rose to meet the challenge of providing accounts of eleven centuries of art in Hungary in a single volume, including, in addition to painting and sculpture, the fields of architecture, photography and the applied arts, as well as the main design trends of the 20th century.