Cultural Bucharest

cultural bucharest A writer's life in a museum

The Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest used to be a royal residence. Today it is the main building of the Presidential Administration. Right opposite to it, in the posh Cotroceni area, we can find two memorial houses dedicated to two of Romania's interwar writers. They were so different from one another in terms of writing, yet they were so close in mundane life: they were actually close friends. They are prose writer Liviu Rebreanu and poet Ion Minulescu. In the former case, the museum-apartment bears the name of Liviu Rebreanu and his wife, Fanny Rebreanu, with the apartment being the only one such site in Bucharest where then the family's domestic atmosphere has been recomposed; so was the writer's study with his bookcase and the writer's personal items. Liviu Rebreanu was a member of the Romanian Academy and a dignitary holding quite a few official positions. A textbook prose writer, Liviu Rebreanu was born in Transylvania, at a time when Transylvania was still part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Among other things, Liviu Rebreanu is remembered as the author who captured the psychology of his characters in an utterly realistic manner. Rebreanu was born in 1885 and died in 1944, shortly before the communist regime was instated in Romania. In 1934, he bought the apartment in Cotroceni for his adoptive daughter, Puia-Florica Rebreanu. Liviu Rebreanu never lived there, yet the house has emphatically preserved the daily life of the family's intimacy. Here is museographer Adrian David, with details on that.

"The residence has quite aptly earned the status of Liviu Rebreanu Memorial House because, after the writer died in Valea Mare, near Pitesti, his wife move to this apartment with her daughter and son-in-law, and here they transferred whatever it was that they could retrieve from the writer's former real estate property. The apartment, today known as the Rebreanu Memorial House  was donated to the Museum of Romanian Literature in 1992 by the writer's adoptive daughter, Puia Rebreanu. When the former owner dies in 1995 and following a time when the residence was refurbished, the apartment entered the museum circuit, in effect belonging to the Romanian state, together

So those who, at present, may want to get the chance to know Rebreanu in the intimacy of his family, can travel to the Cotroceni area and visit the little block of flats where the museum-apartment can be found. 

Museographer Adrian David:

"Rebreanu's desk, where he sat down and wrote his entire work...Those who come visit may notice, for instance, near the desk, the oriental table for the writer's coffee serving set, these two items were always there since he was a coffee addict and a night-time writer. We've got Rebreanu's lamp, owl-shaped and which Rebreanu had on the desk all the time. We have a clock Rebreanu brought for himself from his native Transylvania which back then was under Austrian-Hungarian occupation, It was an imperial clock, which took him back to the native region he had no choice other than leaving and relocating to the Old Kingdom. But over and above anything else, attention-grabbing for those who step into the memorial house is the lavish display of fine art. There are a great many works, most of them authored by some of Rebreanu's friends, some of them were even made in Liviu Rebreanu's house. For instance, in the lobby there are three portraits drawn by Iosif Iser. There were there after the 1913 Christmas, held in the Rebreanus' house, where among the guests were painters Camil Ressu, Iosif Iser, alongside other very good friends. During that Christmas evening the fir-tree was on fire because of the candles, and, according to Puia Rebreanu's own account, all the presents they received for Christmas were burned. But, she said, thank God Iosif Iser's drawings remained intact, bringing back the memories of that day. Also, there are many icons, all of them from Transylvania. Rebreanu was very religious and very superstitious. "

In stark contrast with Liviu Rebreanu, another author lived in the adjoining apartment. He was symbolist poet Ion Minulescu, who was born in 1881 and who died also in 1944. His verse was extremely popular among the sentimental youth of that time. Even the design of that home, which was a lot more spacious, was different, as the imprint was that of a much more bohemian atmosphere as against the restraint of the Rebreanu residence. 

Adrian David:

"The block of flats where both memorial houses can be found, that of Ion Minulescu and that of Liviu Rebreanu, was brought into service in 1934. Back in the day it was known as the Professors' Block of flats and was purpose-built for the teaching staff. Ion Minulescu's wife, poet Claudia Millian, was a high-school teacher and a principal. Liviu Rebreanu got hold of the apartment with the help of Ion Minulescu, who facilitated Rebreanu a loan from the Teaching Staff Center. In the meantime, the two writers' wives and daughters became friends. Actually, in the "Ion Minulescu Claudia Millian Memorial House", all family members are represented in equal proportion, since, apart from Ion Minulescu, with whom we are very familiar, his wife and daughter were also artists and writers. Claudia graduated form the Conservatory of Dramatic Art, while Mioara Minulescu, their daughter, initially read Letters and the French language. Actually, Claudia Millian also studied with the Fine Arts Academy in the country and in Paris, while Mioara Minulescu studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Rome. And indeed, here, on the premises, there are a great many works signed by the two: mosaics, paintings, sculptures and various works of art. "

Apart from the two landlords' works of art, the memorial house also plays host to the work of some friends of the family. 

Adrian David:

"With Minulescu, there are more than 100 paintings. There are a couple of dozen sculptures. All signed by great names of the domestic fine arts, part of whom were very good friends of Claudia Milian's. Her best friends were Cecilia CuČ›escu- Storck and her sister, Ortansa Satmari. 

In the mid-1990s, after the death of the two writers' daughters, Puia Rebreanu and Mioara Minulescu, the two apartments were donated to the state so that they could be turned into memorial houses highlighting the activity of the two writers, but also the personality of the women who stood by their side.
Publicat: 2021-03-20 14:00:00
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