SZÉKELY, Bertalan
(b. 1835, Kolozsvár, d. 1910, Budapest)

Self-Portrait

1860
Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

This fine, forceful and romantic self-portrait of the young Székely is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century Hungarian portraiture. His face, posture and whole being radiate strength of mind, intelligence and youthful self-esteem. It shows a man who is aware of his talent and vocation. This early painting by Székely, who was otherwise of a philosophical nature, is one of his most freshly painted works, bearing no trace of hesitation or theoretical meditation. The warm grey-brown shades of the background and his hair and overcoat give great plasticity to details of his face, painted in light tones.

Apart from artistic considerations, Bertalan Székely was concerned with expressing the firm intellect and morals of the artist friends and contemporaries he painted, and all his portraits are permeated with warm emotion.