The National Bank of Hungary has issued two new coins to mark the 150th anniversary of birth of one of the country’s most admired Hungarian artists, István Csók (1865 – 1961). Considered one of the greatest figures of Hungarian painting, István Csók was born to the wealthy mill-owner Lajos Csók on the 13th February 1865 in the village of Sáregres in Fejér Comitat. His talent came to the fore at an early age, he was a 5th grader at an elementary school in Buda when he completed his first oil painting. Similar to many of his peers, he started his studies at the Budapest Drawing School, after which he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and then at the Julian Academy in Paris. As he himself said, his painting always evolved between the forces of tradition and innovation, as he steadily moved away from the systematic rigor of the academy style towards a more, freer expressionist approach.
Csók’s first publicly exhibited work was Potato Peelers at the 1889 Paris World Exhibition, which won honorable mention. Around the turn of the century, he established his reputation with his naturalist paintings of country life. He participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Paris, Munich, Vienna, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Dresden and the capital of Hungary, Budapest where his works frequently won awards and was a regular exhibitor at the Venice Biennial. In recognition of his international significance, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence asked him to paint a self-portrait for its own collection. His career reached its peak in 1914, with a retrospective exhibition at the Budapest Palace of Art, where the public was treated to 140 of his paintings, including all of his major works. In 1950 and 1955, the Museum of Fine Arts held exhibitions of his life’s work, and a street and gallery in the town of Székesfehérvár are named after him. One characteristic of his life’s work is his repeated artistic re-evaluation of certain themes, and his efforts to capture the idyllic, carefree side of life. A key motif in his paintings is the idealized woman and the female nude. Csók’s works on rural life have a strong link to his Transdanubian birthplace, but his later work on folk themes – including paintings of the Sárköz region and the colorful traditional folk garb of the Sokatz ethnic group – reflect his dedication to creating a particularly Hungarian national style. He was also strongly influenced by the “Oriental fever”, which swept through Europe inspired by the cultures of China and Japan, as well as by his peers’ work and cultural life in Munich and Paris. One of the most important muses in his life was his daughter Júlia “Züzü” Csók, whose carefree childhood was frequently the theme of his paintings. His landscape works call to mind the impressionist style, with paintings of idyllic gardens and the light playing on the waters of Lake Balaton.
István Csók held the post of rector at the College of Fine Arts in the 1920s and was a member of the Szinyei Merse Pál Association. He was elected a member of several art associations during his life (MIÉNK, KÚT, ÚME, Munkácsy Guild), and his work was recognized twice with Kossuth Awards. He died at the age of 96 in 1961 in Budapest.
The coin, struck by the Mint of Hungary on behalf of the National Bank is designed by sculptor Mihaly Fritz. The obverse features a symbolic detail of Csók’s painting Spring Awakening from 1900, depicting a woman holding flowers in her lap, a harbinger of a new and better life. A portrait of the painter can be found on the reverse side of the coin, inspired by one of Csók’s most popular works Studio Interior from 1905.
|2000 Forint||Cupro-nickel||23.7 grams||37 mm.||BU||5000 pieces|
|10,000 Forint||.925 silver||24 grams||37 mm.||Proof||5000 pieces|
The proof quality coin is available either on its own or with presentation box. In an effort to encourage younger would-be collectors, The National Bank of Hungary and the Mint of Hungary have teamed up to produce a non-precious metal version of the commemorative silver examples for those wishing to buy the same artistic theme at a more affordable price. These coins have a nominal value of 2000 forint and are available for their respective face value.
For more information on these and other coins issued by the national Bank, please visit the website of the Mint of Hungary at: http://coins.hu/products/silver_coins/csok_ag_10k.html Information offered in Hungarian and English, international orders dispatched.