The painter Gyula Benczúr was born on the 28th January 1844 in Nyíregyháza and died on the 16th July 1920 in what is nowadays known as Szécsény. He was and still is one of the most successful and technically gifted Hungarian artists. Nowadays, we would describe him as a history painter.
Already in his early childhood, Benczúr showed a huge talent in drawing. In 1861, he started his artistic education. He became a student of the German artists Hermann Anschütz and Georg Hiltensperger. In 1869, he continued his studies with the artist Karl Theodor von Piloty.
The first artworks of Benczúrs, for example, “László Hunyadi’s Farewell” or “Arrestation of Ferenc Rákóczi II at the Fortress of Nagysáros” dealt with tragic events regarding the history of Hungary. In 1970, he won the Hungarian national art competition for historic paintings with “The Baptism of Vajk”. Later on, he started to deal with more mythological subjects in his paintings and was also very successful. Among other things, he illustrated the books of Friedrich Schiller and became a professor of painting at the Art Academy of Munich. However, most of his work consists of his historical paintings, altarpieces and, of course, of portraits he was commissioned to paint from aristocrats and kings.
As one of the revolutionaries of the Munich art scene, he became a member of the Art Community called “Allotria”. Willhelm Busch was a member too. That community was against the extreme conservative exhibition policy of the time. It served economical interests but also had artistic goals, such as the development of historicism, a field Benczúr was keen on since he was a history painter.
His brother, Béla Benczúr, who was an artist as well as an architect, designed his family house in Ambach at the shore of the “Starnberger See”. Gyula Benczúr spent every summer there until he moved back to Hungary in 1883 to become a professor at a Hungarian painting school.
The artworks of Benczúr show great knowledge and craftsmanship of the medium of oil paint. The way he uses different textures and materials is as impressive as his solid skills in drawing. His works have often a gloomy atmosphere, which underlines the tragic themes of his works.
Would you like to learn oil painting? Then sign up for an oil painting course at the Academy of Fine Art!