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

Discovery of the Body of King Louis the Second

Oil on canvas, 140 x 182 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

Bertalan Székely was the most fastidious master of the style known as historicism. He harboured the idea of painting The Discovery of the Body of King Louis the Second already during the years he spent in Transylvania following his studies in Vienna. After having clarified the role of each element of the composition, he painted the great work in 1860 in Munich, where he was studying under Piloty. Working out the structure and the accent of colours in detail was of prime importance for Székely.

The last Hungarian king from the Jagello Dynasty, the young Louis II (1516-1526), was slain in the Battle of Mohács. His passing symbolizes the death of the nation and the beginning of the Turkish suzerainty which lasted 150 years. The gestures of respect for the dead as well as the white shroud, which contrast dramatically with the sombre atmosphere, work in unison to focus our attention on the tragic figure of the Hungarian king.

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