Mihály Munkácsy

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2016. 2. 6.

Mihály Munkácsy (20 February 1844 1 May 1900) was a Hungarian painter, who lived in Paris and earned international reputation with his genre pictures and large scale biblical paintings.

Munkácsy was born as Michael Leo Lieb (Lieb Mihály Leó) to Mihály Lieb, an office holder of Bavarian origin and Cecília Reök in Munkács, Hungary, Austrian Empire, the town from which he later adopted his pseudonym. After being apprenticed to itinerant painter Elek Szamossy, Munkácsy went to Pest, the largest city in Hungary (now part of Budapest), where he sought the patronage of some established artists. With the help of the landscapist Antal Ligeti he received a grant from the state so he could study abroad. In 1865, he studied at the Academy of Vienna under Karl Rahl. In 1866, he went to Munich to study at the Academy, and in 1868 he moved to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf to learn from the popular genre painter Ludwig Knaus. In 1867, he travelled to Paris to see the Universal Exposition. After this trip his style became much lighter, with broader brushstrokes and tonal colour schemes - he was probably influenced by modern French painting seen at the Exposition.

In the early years of his career 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 (e. g. Károly Lotz, János Jankó), for example in The Cauldron (1864) or Easter Merrymaking (1865). In the next years he started to pay more attention to the landscape into which he placed his figures (Storm in the Puszta, 1867). From the Düsseldorf genre painters he learnt to represent different emotions in his figures and to treat them as a group (The Last Day of a Condemned Man, 1869). He is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting.