NAGY BALOGH, János
(b. 1874, Budapest, d. 1919, Budapest)

Self-Portrait

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Oil on canvas, 41 x 31 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

Nagy Balogh painted his self-portraits as sketches at the beginning of his career. Later, his best pictures came from among them. Pictorial qualities dominated them more and more, e.g. changes of shadow and light, emhasis of transitions between flat and uneven and the ambition to arrest the most characteristic elements of his own face with the simplest tools. The resulting pictures are varied just like the range of psychic states. They are all characteristic examples of self-study and intospection because periods of despair and stagnation during his career and successes at the peak of his career are reflected in the picture.

Self-confidence as a result of his results and tranquility characterize his later "Self-Portrait" considered by art experts particularly as "Dutch". Nagy Balogh's self-portraits generally show Rembrandt's influence, whereas portraits painted around 1912 are close to Frans Hals' pictures. Lajos Németh mentions in his monograph on Nagy Balogh that the painter must have seen Hals' "Portrait of the Painter Jan Asselyn" in the Museum of Fine Art. The structure of the face, the moustache, the brilliant brushwork and the way he treated whites suggest Hals' influence, the portrait is still a typical picture of Nagy Balogh'. The characteristic face almost like a square and the hat projecting a shadow on the forehead, few colours, e.g. yellows, whites and greys glazed on the dark background and producing greenish reflexes - these are all very typical of Nagy Balogh. Milán Füst, a Hungarian poet, wrote the following about his late picture: "It was a portrait in light colours, painted with wide brushstrokes. It was the deep restfulness of the composition which fascinated me at first. A portrait like that could only be painted by a person who had gone through the sufferings of struggles and hesitations, who had reconciled with himself and the world, whose fire was steady: it does not cease burning and it has no emotions ... The person who painted it, managed to concentrate his powers, and all skills reached a maximum whenever he took the brush into his hand."