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Portrait of Irén Bilcz János Thorma


János Thorma Kiskunhalas, 1870 – Nagybánya [Baia Mare], 1937

Date 1892
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil, canvas

110 × 9.5 cm

Inventory number 78.149T
Collection Collection of Paintings
On view Hungarian National Gallery Building C, Second Floor, Modern Times – Hungarian Art between 1896 and World War II, U Wing

The painter attended Simon Hollósy’s private art school in Munich in 1888–1890, then he was trained at the Julian Academy in Paris in 1891. From 1884 he and his family lived in Nagybánya (today: Baia Mare, Romania) where he became one of the artists who prepared and founded the artists’ colony aimed to bring to efflorescence the Hungarian plein air endeavours. In Munich Thorma saw Bastien-Lepage’s naturalist paintings, his works of the early 1890s testifying to the assimilation of this style. A unique early masterpiece of Thorma’s early period is the Portrait of Irén Bilcz, which regrettably passed unnoticed at that time. His contemporaries failed to take note of it and the critics did not reflect upon it, thus this brilliant initiative was not continued by the artist. There is an interesting duality in the picture: while in the modelling of the sitter and her clothing the naturalist approach is predominant, the golden background and subtle art nouveau arm support already anticipate the decorative style of the turn of the century. Looking for analogies, one is prompted to name Gustav Klimt’s (1862―1918) works of stylistic duality made in the early 1900s. The depicted young woman, Irén Bilcz was the daughter of the Greek Catholic priest of Nagybánya. Later she married a noted artist of the colony, Béla Iványi Grünwald, who perpetuated the graceful figure of his wife in several paintings. | Edit Plesznivy

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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