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 Laszlo Mednyanszky  (1852 - 1919)

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Lived/Active: Hungary/Austria      Known for: Landscape, portrait and figure painting

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Brawling Brook with a Bridge
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Baron Laszlo Mednyanszky (Slovak: Ladislav Mednanský) (23 April 1852 – 17 April 1919) or Ladislaus Josephus Balthasar Eustachius Mednyanszky, the painter-philosopher, is one of the most enigmatic figures in the history of Hungarian and Slovak art. Despite an aristocratic background, he spent most of his life moving around Europe working as an artist. Mednyanszky spent considerable periods in seclusion but mingled with people across society - in the aristocracy, art world, peasantry and army - many of whom became the subjects of his paintings. His most important works depict scenes of nature and poor, working people, particularly from his home region in Kingdom of Hungary. He is also known as a painter of Slovak landscape (Upper Hungary) and Slovak folk.

Mednyanszky was born in Beckov, Kingdom of Hungary, Habsburg Monarchy (now Beckov in Slovakia), to Eduard Mednyanszky and Maria Anna Mednyanszky, (née Szirmay) both from landowning families. He came from a Hungarian noble family. Some say he was of Slovak origin, however, according to others, he was born into a Hungarian family with Polish and Hungarian ancestry. One of his grandmothers, Eleonora Richer was of French origin. His native tongue was Hungarian and it is not even sure he could speak in Slovak.

Mednyanszky's family moved in 1861 to the chateau of his grandfather, Baltazar Szirmay, at Nagyor (Strazky), near Szepesbela (Spisská Bela) in north-eastern Slovakia. This was to be the setting for many of his works. Mednyanszky met the Austrian artist Thomas Ender in 1863 when Ender visited the chateau at Strazky. Ender took an interest in Mednyanszky's early efforts at drawing, lending his assistance to improve Mednyanszky's skills.

Mednyanszky attended a grammar school in Késmárk (Kežmarok), near his home, then attended the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) in Munich in 1872—1873. Dissatisfied in Munich, he moved to Paris to attend the École des Beaux-Arts. After the death of his professor, Isidore Pils, in 1875, Mednyánszky left the École and began practicing independently from Montmartre.

Mednyánszky returned to Strážky after 1877 to continue painting, and subsequently travelled widely in Europe, between his childhood homes in Upper Hungary and Budapest, Vienna, Paris and beyond. Mednyánszky visited the Szolnok artists' colony in the autumn of 1877 and Italy in 1878. His mother died in 1883, after which he lived in seclusion in Nagyor. He returned to Nagyor in 1887 to help deal with an outbreak of cholera but soon fell ill himself, with pneumonia. He spent much of 1889-1892 in Paris and returned regularly to Strážky until 1900. His father, Eduard, died in 1895. Mednyánszky held his only solo exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in 1897. For the years 1905-1911 he lived in Budapest, then later moved to Vienna.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Mednyánszky was in Budapest again. He worked as a war correspondent on the Austro-Hungarian frontlines in Galicia, Serbia and the southern Tirol. In the spring of 1918 he returned to Strážky to recover from war wounds. After spending some time working in Budapest, Mednyánszky died in poor health in the spring of 1919, in Vienna.

He edgily tried to establish an association against the Pan-Slav agitators with Béla Grünwald. The Hungarian politician Grünwald banned Matica Slovenska. The articles of association of this organization were written by Mednyánszky. This association had a few thousands members.

Mednyánszky's works were largely in the Impressionist tradition, with influences from Symbolism and Art Nouveau. His works depict landscape scenes of nature, the weather and everyday, poor people such as peasants and workmen. The region of his birth, north-eastern part of the Kingdom of Hungary), part of Austria-Hungary (today Slovakia) was the site and subject of many of his paintings; scenes from the Carpathian Mountains and the Hungarian Plains are numerous. He also painted portraits of his friends and family, and images of soldiers during the First World War whilst working as a war correspondent.

His works are currently displayed in the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava and Strážky chateau, which was donated to SNG by his niece Margita Czóbel in 1972.

A lot of his works are displayed in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest as well. A large number of his works were destroyed during the Second World War. In 2004 a New York gallery was host to a show of about 70 19th- and early 20th-century Hungarian paintings, and a few works on paper, from the collection of Nicholas Salgo, a former United States ambassador to Hungary. The exhibition's title, Everywhere a Foreigner and Yet Nowhere a Stranger, was drawn from the diary of the 19th-century Hungarian painter Baron László Mednyánszky.

Source:
"Laszlo Mednyanszky", Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A1szl%C3%B3_Medny%C3%A1nszky


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