In 1925, the elegant sitters of De László’s pendant paintings, built a villa in neo-baroque style in the hills of Buda. Since 1946, when the Scitovszky family left for the United States, never to return to Hungary, this building has functioned as the British Ambassador’s Residence in Budapest. De László painted the pair in October 1927, and the paintings were displayed in their home in Budapest. Two photos in the Residence archive show the paintings in their original hang, which is reflected in the current hang of the works.
In 1935, when the de László family visited the Scitovszkys for dinner, the painter recalled:
“We dinner [sic] with the Scitovszky’s in their splendid House with the very best taste - of which I saw none equally beautiful - from every point of view perfect in style & only very good thinks [sic] in it - was pleased to see my two fine portraits of them painted some 8 years ago in Paris.”
Tibor Scitovszky de Nagykér was born in Nőtincs in the county of Nógrád on 21 June 1875. He was the son of János de Scitovszky (1850-1903), Vice Lord Lieutenant of Nógrád and a Member of Parliament, and his wife, Eugénia Szitányi de Szitány (1850-1934). Of Polish origins, they were ennobled in Hungary in 1835. Tibor studied at the universities of Budapest and Paris. As undersecretary in the Ministry of Commerce, he served as an economic advisor to the Hungarian delegation at the peace negotiations at Trianon that followed the First World War. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs from November 1924 to March 1925, in the government of Count István Bethlen. He then became president of the Magyar Általános Hitelbnk [Hungarian General Bank of Credit], and in 1927 he became a member of the Upper House of Parliament. He married Hanna Hódosi (1886-1977) and they had a son Tibor (1910-2002) who emigrated to the United States and became a celebrated economist and professor of economics at Stanford and later at Berkeley. Tibor Scitovszky de Nagykér’s bank was nationalised by the communist government in 1948. He died in Los Angeles on 12 April 1959.
Philip Alexius De László, portrait painter, was born in Budapest, where he studied at the School of Arts and Crafts from 1884 and at the National Academy of Arts from 1885. He later studied at the Royal Bavarian Academy of Art, Munich, before enrolling at the Academie Julian in Paris in 1890. De Laszlo exhibited widely in Europe, including at the Paris Salon. He received many international honours and commissions from royalty. He settled in England in 1907, the year his first one-man show was held at the Fine Art Society, and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1911. In 1914, he became a naturalised British subject, but was interned in 1917. In 1930, he became President of the Royal Society of British Artists. He died in London in 1937.
Purchased from a Private Collection via Christie's, New York, 2019
recto: signed, inscribed and dated by the artist 'de László / Pariz / 1927 -', bottom left
By family descent; Woodside Priory School, California USA; Private collection; by whom sold through Sotheby’s, New York USA on 26 May 1993 (Lot 293); from which sale purchased by a Private collection; by whom sold through Christie’s, New York USA on 30 April 2019 (Lot 82); at which sale purchased by UK Government Art Collection
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