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The Emir of Lebanon József Borsos

Artist

József Borsos Veszprém, 1821 – Budapest, 1883

Date 1843
Object type painting
Medium, technique canvas, oil
Dimensions

154 × 119 cm

Inventory number 2003.3T
Collection Collection of Paintings
On view This artwork is on view at the permanent exhibition

The emir from Lebanon is actually Count Edmund Zichy (1811―
1894) who spent most of his life in Vienna as a passionate art collector
and a leading figure of the artistic life of Vienna and Pest.
He was one of the founders of the Museum of Applied Arts in
Vienna and a member of Vienna’s Künstlerhaus. It is indicative of
his significance that the “prince” of Viennese painters, Hans Makart
painted one of his few male portraits of him. Living in Vienna in the
1840s and earning fame as a portraitist, József Borsos painted
Zichy’s portrait when he had returned from an oriental trip in
1842, presumably in the attire the count had worn during his
visit to Soliman Pasha, a commander of the Egyptian forces stationed
in Syria. Zichy’s peculiarly orientalised portrait is in line
with the increasing Hungarian awareness of the East, with the
growing popularity of orientalism in architecture and with
the cult of the East that was fed not only by researches into Hungarian
prehistory but also by the similarities of eastern and Hungarian
noblemen’s traditional way of living. The characteristic
Hungarian features of philosophising and taking time were often
compared by Hungarian writers to Lebanon and the tradition of
thousand-year-old cedar trees. Thus Zichy’s portrait is not only
a fine specimen of the portraiture of the period but also the conveyor
of a specific national programme. | Gábor Bellák

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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