„I am an Artist of the World…” Philip de László (1869-1937)


„I am an Artist of the World…” Philip de László (1869-1937)

Building C, 1st Floor, Graphic Cabinet - 27 September 2019 – 5 January 2020

To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Philip de László (1869–1937) the Hungarian National Gallery, in collaboration with the The de Laszlo Archive Trust, will present a display of 16 portraits from the artist’s mature period. This will be a 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 Hungarian history of art, and among the world’s foremost artists of his age, but is now little known in his native country. He is not of the under-appreciated Hungarian geniuses who had to move abroad for his talent to be recognised. He was recognised in Hungary in his lifetime, being awarded a gold medal and title of nobility and he received commissions from Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, and other royal families of Europe. Ministers, dukes, counts and prelates, 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 in the vicinity of the capital’s City Park (Városliget). He moved to Vienna in 1903 with his wife, Lucy Guinness, following significant foreign commissions and lived there with his growing family until 1907 when they finally settled in London. 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 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 great historical figures. His oeuvre constitutes the last great chapter of classical portraiture rooted in the late Renaissance. With the decline of the traditional role of aristocracy after World War II, this kind of representational, iconic portraiture lost its significance.

Although he became a British citizen, de László remained a proud Hungarian throughout his life. He supported Hungarian artists and donated several of his works to the Hungarian state. His last exhibition was organised nearly 100 years ago at the Műcsarnok in Budapest in 1925.

His paintings will be accompanied by contemporary photographs, de László’s medals and decorations and an archive film from an early Kodak-Eastman ciné camera taken by the artist and his family.

The publication of the updated Hungarian edition of the artist’s biography Philip de László: His Life and Art (Corvina Kiadó) and written by Duff Hart-Davis in collaboration with Caroline Corbeau-Parsons (2010, Yale University Press), will concide with the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition will also be accompanied both by a Hungarian and an 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.

„I am an Artist of the World…” Philip de László (1869-1937)

27 September 2019 – 5 January 2020

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