Philip Alexius de László
Collection of Paintings
„I am an Artist of the World…” Philip de László (1869-1937)Purchase
To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Philip de László / László Fülöp (1869–1937), the Hungarian National Gallery, in collaboration with The de Laszlo Archive Trust, presents a display of 16 portraits from the artist’s mature period. This is an unique opportunity to see rarely exhibited masterpieces from prestigious private collections, with one of the key loans being the portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, when Duchess of York.
Philip de László was a prominent figure in the history of Hungarian art, and among the world’s foremost artists of his age, but is now little-known in his native country. He was indeed recognised in Hungary in his lifetime, being awarded gold medals and a title of nobility, receiving commissions from Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and virtually all the royal families of Europe. Ministers, dukes, counts and prelates, two popes and four American presidents, artists and scientists from every corner of the world were counted among his more than 2000 patrons.
At the age of thirty, de László was already one of the wealthiest Hungarian painters and lived in a marvellous studio villa that he built in the vicinity of the capital’s City Park (Városliget). Following significant commissions in Austria and Germany, he moved to Vienna in 1903 with his wife, Lucy Guinness. He lived there with his growing family until 1907, when they finally settled in London, by which time he had numerous patrons in France and England too. Well-known as one of the greatest portraitists of his age with more than 4000 pictures to his name, he rightly called himself “an artist of the world” and his interface with so many leading figures of his age gives credence to his oft-quoted phrase: “and [I] paint history, not only individuals”.
Philip de László was the last European painter of the Grand Manner who indeed recorded the history of his era – through portraits of the great figures of his time. His oeuvre constitutes the last great chapter of classical portraiture rooted in the late Renaissance, and the Stuart period in England. With the decline of the traditional role of aristocracy after World War II, this kind of representational, iconic portraiture lost its significance, especially in Hungary.
Although he became a British citizen, de László remained a proud Hungarian throughout his life. He supported Hungarian artists and donated a number of his works to the Hungarian state. His last exhibition was organised nearly 100 years ago at the Műcsarnok in Budapest in 1925.
The display is enhanced by unique contemporary photographs of the artist, his family and his sitters. His 22 medals and orders are represented by loans from the MoD Military History Institute and Museum and an archive film shown from an early Kodak-Eastman ciné camera taken by the artist and his family.
The publication of the first Hungarian translation of the 2010 biography Philip de László: His Life and Art (Hart-Davis, 2010, Yale University Press), now updated & revised by Beáta Somfalvi, (Corvina Kiadó 2019) coincided with the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition is also accompanied by a Hungarian booklet and a well-illustrated English-language catalogue.
The official webpage of The de Laszlo Archive Trust can be found here.
Curators: Gábor Bellák, Sandra de Laszlo, Katherine Field, Beáta Somfalvi
At the same time as the exhibition, Duff Hart-Davis László’s biography, published in 2010, is being published by Corvina Kiadó.
Full price ticket: 3200 HUF
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:45 pm, closed on Mondays
27 September 2019 – 5 January 2020Online ticket purchase