21 October 2010

De Laszlo and friends

I took time off from a morning working in the Society of Antiquaries to look at the Pictures from Budapest in the Royal Academy. Rather strange; somewhat mechanistically selected so that you generally get just one and very rarely more than two pictures from each artist. The great advantage is that very few of these works are members of the Old Club of Important Pictures which one repeatedly sees in exhibitions year after year ... pictures which can rarely be visible in the galleries to which they belong.

The exception to this was a picture which did appear in a very jolly little exhibition put on by Christie's in 2004. Perhaps in honour of the papal beatification of Bl John Henry, there is a fine portrait by Philip de Laszlo of Leo XIII. I never forget a Laszlo, because right beside my classroom door in Great Schoool at Lancing hung a superb portrait by Laszlo of a former head master (he did it cheap because he had a couple of boys at the College). Laszlo did Dr Bowlby's eyes very well (haunted and disappointed; Evelyn Waugh commented that it was while he was at Lancing that Bowlby must have realised that he had been passed over for a bishopric ... he ended up sacked after a SCR coup); and he did as well for Leo XIII. Laszlo recorded that, during the four sittings, the Holy Father conversed about "a great variety of subjects; political, religious, social, artistic and scientific". The eyes are those of an old, kindly, highly intelligent, and intellectually lively man.

Another Newman connection is a Tiepolo which has S Philip Neri among the saints gathered around our Lady's feet. The Other University gets a nod in a charming picture by Giordano of the Flight Into Egypt, showing our Lady (wearing a very fetching straw hat) stepping on to a punt at the Cambridge end ("Girton, I presume, Miss McJoachim?").

Most people seem to be gathered round a drawing by Egon Schiele showing two Lesbians embracing. Nothing like a bit of kink to delay the middle-class English art-lover. I was detained longest by two utterly wonderful little limewood statues by someone called Straub; baroque in their movimento but elegant rather than florid. The arrows really look as if they have sunk into S Sebastian's flesh; and S Rocco has a wonderfully realistic ulcer.

6 comments:

Fr Daniel Lloyd said...

There's a rather good de László of Cardinal Rampolla. Check out that malocchio...

http://www.delaszloarchivetrust.com/egalery/67/thumb.jpg

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

That was in the Christie's exhibition, too.

Rampolla was a good friend of ours in the decade before Apostolicae curae.

AndrewWS said...

Miss McJoachim, forsooth, ha ha ha. Or ROFL as young people say these days.

A pupil of Miss Jean Brodie, no doubt, and certainly the crème de la crème. Blessèd be she.

Steve said...

I wonder if Laszlo would have seen through Pius IX....

Pax Britannica said...

The very young deL was sent by the Hungarian bishops to do Papa Pecci - an extraordinary honour - which he almost blew by making HH "look like Voltaire", in the HF's words. So he began again the next day, with HH's generous permission. What a kind gesture. and a superb portrait resulted. the 'Voltaire' is now in the Lateran museum, and is indeed very like - V.

Neither Papa Pecci, nor Ramp, are on regular show in Budapest, despite their splendid quality. Nor is his (much later) Horthy - HSH the Regent is more controversial. As indeed I gather is deL in Hungary today, due to the connection.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

They sent Horthy to the Christie's exhibition. Could it be that de Laszlo is quite simply a prophet without honour in his own land? I thik he is underestimated here, too; I enjoy a Laszlo more than I do a John Singer Sargent.