Hungarian painter (b. 1830, Csetnek, d. 1917, Budapest)
László Hunyadi on the Bier
Oil on canvas, 249 x 313 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest
From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, Hungarian painters began to paint historical scenes as well as landscapes, portraits and genre paintings. It was not merely a fashion in Hungary to follow the current Romantic Movement that originated in Paris, or the “historism” of the Munich and Vienna Academies; it went much deeper than that. At the defeat of the fight for independence, the nation escaped into its history. Along with Hungarian poets and writers, the painters recalled the glorious events of the past, searching for ideals of patriotism and heroism that had not been crushed by despotism.
Viktor Madarász gained the first international appreciation for Hungarian painting when his picture, “The Bewailing of László Hunyadi” won the State Grand Prix at the 1861 Paris Salon Exhibition. This rather romantic historical painting of the Hunyadi tragedy epitomizes the national grief of the 1850s, and fans the fire of revenge. The dead body of the heroic László Hunyadi, son of the great János Hunyadi, lies in Buda Castle Chapel. King László V, fearing for throne, had lured the popular young Hunyadi to his place with a promise of safe passage. Then he seized him and had him beheaded in the market place at Buda on March 16, 1457. At the feet of body, his mother, Erzsébet Szilágyi, and his bride, Mária Gara, kneel in grief.