Mihály Munkácsy Hungary
2-20-1844 Munkács, HUN - 5-1-1900 Endenlich, GERBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
In the early years of his career Mihály Munkácsy painted mainly scenes from the daily lives of peasants and poor people. First he followed the colourful, theatrical style of contemporary Hungarian genre painters. In the next years he started to pay more attention to the landscape into which he placed his figures.
In 1869, Mihály Munkácsy painted his much acclaimed work The Last Day of a Condemned Man. This is considered his first masterpiece. The picture was rewarded with the Gold Medal of the Paris Salon in 1870. It made Munkácsy a popular painter in an instant.
Mihály Munkácsy, together with his friend, the landscapist László Paál, moved to Paris, where he lived until the end of his life. He continued to paint genre pictures like Making Lint (1871) and Woman Gathering Brushwood (1873). The zenith of Munkácsy's career was between 1873 and 1875, when he painted Midnight Ramblers, Farewell, Churning Woman, and Pawnshop.
In 1878, he painted a historical genre picture, The Blind Milton Dictating Paradise Lost to his Daughters, which marked a new milestone in his oeuvre. The picture was bought (and successfully sold) by Austrian-born art dealer Charles Sedelmeyer, who offered Munkácsy a ten-year contract. This deal made Munkácsy a wealthy man and a really established member of the Paris art world.
Sedelmeyer wanted him to paint large-scale pictures which could be exhibited on their own. They decided that a subject taken from the Bible would be most suitable. In 1882 Mihály Munkácsy painted Christ in front of Pilate, which was followed by Golgotha in 1884. The trilogy was completed by Ecce Homo in 1896. The Hungarian government in 2014, bought the painting Ecce Homo! for $5.7 million.
Mihály Munkácsy did not abandon genre painting, but his settings changed. In the 1880s he painted many so-called salon pictures: scenes set in lavishly furnished rooms in the homes of rich people. These pictures were extremely popular especially among American buyers and fetched great prices.
Although Munkácsy, who was very conscious about earthly comfort and social prestige, became a celebrity, he was always unsure and always questioning his own talent. By the 1890s, his depression grew into a severe mental illness. His last pictures are troubled and sometimes even bizarre (Victim of Flowers, 1896).
Art Movement: Realism
Influences: Karl Rahl, Ludwig Knaus
Traveled: Austria, Germany, France