NAMÉNYI, ERNEST (Ernö; 1888–1957), Hungarian art historian, economist, and writer. Born in Nagykanizsa, Naményi was the son of Rabbi Ede Neumann. He studied in Budapest and in Brussels, and after he received his doctorate in law was appointed a research associate in the Institut de Sociologie Solvay from 1911 to 1914. He specialized in banking with his uncle, the noted banker P. *Philipson. With the outbreak of World War I he returned to Hungary, and from 1916 to 1949 served as the secretary and later the director of Országos Iparegyesület ("National Industrial Association"). He published economic and sociological articles in Hungarian and French. He also did research in Jewish art, which he felt was an educational means of striving for aesthetics and ethics in Judaism. This outlook led him to found the Jewish Liberal program movement known as "Ézsajás Vallásos Társaság" ("Isaiah Religious Society"). He was among the leaders of the Jewish Museum, and from 1942 served as its director and from 1947 as chairman, succeeding in collecting for it the best works of Jewish artists in and out of Hungary. He also worked for the central Jewish library, which included the remnants of both public and private Jewish libraries, and these collections were housed in the Rabbinical Seminary in Budapest. When the journal Libanon was transferred to the Jewish Museum, Naményi participated in its editing until 1944. Together with P. Gruenwald, he wrote the history of the synagogues in Budapest, Budapesti zsinagógak ("Synagogues of Budapest," 1949). In 1949 he emigrated to Paris, where he devoted himself to literary work exclusively in the field of Jewish art. He also published two essays on Jewish art in: C. Roth, ed., Jewish Art (1961), 423–54, 575–638. His last book was L'Esprit de l'Art Juif (1957; The Essence of Jewish Art, 1960).
Libanon, 8 (1943), 107–11 (Hung.).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.