SUMMER, LAKE BALATON

Lake Balaton is a large, irregularly-shaped lake located in the middle of Hungary.  Surrounded by fertile hills covered with vineyards and fields of lavender, it has a Mediterranean-like climate, with the water warm enough for swimming for a few months out of the year. For centuries it has been a popular vacation spot for Hungarians and foreigners, with its shores dotted with resort communities. Perhaps the best known is Balatonfured, which sits on the north shore next to a peninsula surmounted by the famous thousand-year-old Benedictine abbey of Tihany. The last Habsburg Emperor of Austria, Blessed  Charles I (beatified by the Catholic Church in 2004), was briefly imprisoned in Tihany shortly after World War One in an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne of Hungary, where he would have been known as Charles IV.  So in a very calm, peaceful setting, probably graced with breezes perfumed by lavender flowers, there is also the almost overwhelming background noise of history making an abrupt, 180-degree turn. By now we all know the rest.

Balatonfured is also the location of healing springs and a world-famous hospital for heart patients. Among other luminaries, Nobel winners Rabindranath Tagore and Salvatore Quasimodo were treated there, and the shoreline has a promenade named after Tagore and filled with statues of poets as well as trees planted in honor of various famous people. There is also a smallish, scientifically-oriented and well-kept aquarium whose displays are faintly reminiscent of the kind of restaurants where one can pick the fish one wants for dinner.

I have visited Lake Balaton regularly over the past ten years. The following drawings, done in 2014 using colored pencil on approximately 10″X13″ paper, are my attempt to give a sense of Balaton and its atmosphere.

Balaton I (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

Balaton I (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

 

Balaton II (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

Balaton II (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

 

Balaton III (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

Balaton III (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

 

Balaton IV (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

Balaton IV (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

 

Balaton V (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

Balaton V (colored pencil on paper, 2014)

 

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