Rarely seen works by the celebrated portrait painter, Philip de László, will be brought together for the first solo museum display of the artist's work since his death over 70 years ago. This new display will include special loans from The Royal Collection and Chequers and will mark the completion of indexing of the de László archive at the National Portrait Gallery
. Philip de László will run from 27 March until 5 September 2010 and provide an opportunity to reappraise the work of this artist.
Focusing on de László's career between 1912 and 1925, the nine portraits on display include several of de László's finest commissioned portraits of eminent public figures. These will be shown alongside a much less well known aspect of his work: intimate portraits of his own family, several of which have not been on public display before. One of the artist's most accomplished paintings, a portrait of the 6th Duchess of Portland, will be on public display for the first time since the artist's death in 1937. Star portraits include probably the artist's most distinguished work, a portrait of the late Queen Mother (1925) on loan from The Royal Collection and a portrait of the American heiress Faith Moore (1920) on loan from Chequers. The display also draws from the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery, including a portrait of Jerome K. Jerome, author of Three Men in a Boat, who was a friend and supporter of de László.
De László (1869 - 1937) was one of the most acclaimed and successful portrait painters of his generation but in common with many of his contemporaries, during the ensuing period of high Modernism, his work faded from public view. Like his forbear, John Singer Sargent, de László was a cosmopolitan figure whose sitters included European royalty and numerous individuals connected with the arts, science, politics, religion, business and fashionable society. Like so many portraitists, the work of de László lost popularity when his sitters became figures of the past and when the artist's style lost favour after his lifetime. This display, curated by Paul Moorhouse, 20th century curator at the National Portrait Gallery with the participation of the de László Catalogue Raisonné team, reassesses his singular achievement and appeal.
Born 30 April 1869 in Budapest, de László studied in Budapest, Munich and Paris. He soon received prestigious commissions and his portraits of the German Imperial Family and Pope Leo XIII attracted international attention. In 1900 he won the Grand Gold Medal at the Paris International Exhibition. By 1907 he had settled in England and painted portraits of King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria. By the time of his death in 1937 he had painted over 5,000 portraits, held 22 orders, 17 medals of merit, and in 1930 had succeeded Sickert as the President of the Royal Society of British Artists.
Philip de László's archive, comprising some 16,000 items, was generously given to the National Portrait Gallery by the de Laszlo Archive Trust in 2005. Covering the years 1892-1937 it includes personal letters, studio correspondence, press cuttings and records his early career in Budapest, growing reputation among the courts of Europe during the 1890s, and subsequent success as one of the most prominent portrait painters in Britain. The de László Archive can be consulted in the Heinz Archive & Library. For further information visit www.npg.org.uk/research