(b. 1844, Nyíregyháza, d. 1920, Dolány)

László Hunyadi's Farewell

Oil on canvas, 147 x 121 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

The great solemnity of historical paintings was especially apparent in the large pictures by Gyula Benczúr. His master, Piloty, concerned himself with stage-like scenes from the history of Europe, but Benczúr who great up in Kassa in the turmoil of the War of Independence, felt that it was more important to depict Hungarian history. This early work of his, "László Hunyadi's Farewell", alredy shows his particular talent for composition, human characterization and realistic rendering. There is deep sorrow on the face of László Hunyadi, the central figure, and one feels his tragic fate looming over the paintful farewell of his friends, Subdued light falls on the group and is reflected from the white walls that are painted with masterly realism.

The great succes of this painting marked the beginning of Benczúr's sparkling artistic career. He first exhibited it in Pest in 1867 and then in Paris with the works of eleven other Hungarian painters. In 1869, the Pest Picture Gallery Association bought it for the Hungarian National Museum. It became so popular that the weekly magazine "Hazánk" (Our Native Land) reproduced it as a colour supplement in the 1870s.