Monday, 20 February 2012

Mihály Munkácsy and Lady Seated at Her Needlework

'Lady Seated at Her Needlework' (unknown date) by Mihály Munkácsy; Private Collection

I had never heard of the Hungarian painter Mihály Munkácsy, born on February 20, 1844, and I know I'm not alone in that respect but I'm glad I can use him for the post today. Apparently he was not a minor painter. He gained international acclaim with his painting 'The last day of a condemned man' (1869-72) that won him the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1870. While chosing a painting for today, I found many that I liked but also found that his paintings were so different in theme and colour. Then I read in his biography that at the beginning of his career his paintings were of a realistíc nature, mainly scenes from the daily lives of peasants. After he had been to Paris, he was influenced by the modern French painters and their lighter colour schemes. He turned to colourful salon paintings and still lifes. Although 'Lady seated at her needlework' is of an unknown date, this was probably one of these salon paintings judging by the lighter colours and lighter theme. I find this painting a sweet depiction of homely life, although it's not clear to me what kind of relationship the young woman and man have. 

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