Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Hungarian Venus: Corner of the Studio by István Csók

Corner of the studio

The remarkably long-lived Csók (1865-1961) went through many styles in his lifetime.

He studied in Budapest and Munich in the early 1880s before spending time in Paris between 1887 and 1910. He exhibited in Rome, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and London.


Later he taught at the Budapest Academy of Fine Arts, and was the president of various artistic associations and there is a museum dedicated to his work in Cece.

The dubiously titled "Honi soit qui mal y pense"

He produced a number of nudes but this dark, gypsy-looking specimen squirming in the corner of his studio is our favourite

One of his most famous pictures is his study of Erzsébet Báthory (1560-1614), the Hungarian Countess accused of killing hundreds (possibly as many as 600) of young women. Eventually she was walled up in a set of rooms in her own castle, where she died four years later before a tril could be organised.

Her behaviour sparked legends that she bathed in virgin's blood to keep her looks. Something that Hammer films happily depicted in Countess Dracula (1971) starring the magnificent Ingrid Pitt as the countess. In the opening of the film the credits are shown over the Báthory painting by Csók, showing the countess watching the torture of young girls in the snow. The original picture was lost during World War 2 although a colour sketch survives.

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