The National Bank of Hungary has issued (28th January) new silver coins for the 175th anniversary of the birth of Gyula Benczúr (1844–1920), considered one of the greatest Hungarian masters of historicism. An internationally acclaimed artist, renowned painter, and a member of the Academy in his life, he founded the first art school in Hungary, the Benczúr Master School, where he worked as a director until the end of his life.
Born in the small village of Nyíregyháza on the 28th January 1844, to Vilmos Benczúr and Paulina Laszgallner, the young Gyula began to show a strong talent for drawing and painting by the time he was old enough to attend high school. Benczúr was enrolled in a private art academy in the town of Kosice, which was established by brothers Ferenc and Bela Klimkovics, where his talent began to show promise. In 1861, Benczúr became a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, studying under the tutelage of Karl von Piloty (1826–1886), one of Germany’s most eminent painters from 1865 to 1869. Also in 1869, Benczúr
Benczúr took time to tend to personal life when in 1873 he married Karolina Max (1844–1890), and during the time they were together, the couple would welcome four children until Karolina’s untimely death in 1890. Two years later, Benczúr married his second wife Piroska Boldizsár Ürmössy, a teacher of the Budapest State Teacher Training School.
Gyula Benczúr achieved international success in 1870 when he won the Hungarian national competition for historical painting with his depiction of King Stephen’s baptism. He then assisted his former teacher Piloty with the frescoes at the Maximilianeum, a gifted student’s foundation established by King Maximillian II of Bavaria and the Rathaus in Munich. Benczúr also illustrated books by the great German writer, Friedrich Schiller, and received further numerous commissions from King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who became a firm admirer of his works.
He was named a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, in 1875, and soon after, he built a home in Ambach on Lake Starnberg. It was a magnificent structure designed by his brother Béla, who became a prominent architect in his own right. In 1883, Benczúr returned to Hungary to continue his activities as an art teacher, with one of his most distinguished pupils being the Swiss-born American painter Adolfo Müller-Ury. Benczúr was later a favorite among the Hungarian upper-class, painting numerous portraits of kings and aristocrats. He also created some religious works, most notably altarpieces for St. Stephen’s Basilica and Buda Castle. It was also this time that Benczúr founded his own academy, the Benczúr Master School, which he managed until his death.
In 1910, Benczúr became an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He died on the 16th July
The latest collector coins
The coins are produced by the Mint of Hungary at their facilities in Budapest, on behalf of the National Bank, and are designed by industrialist artist Andrea Horváth.
The obverse side includes, as the central motif, one of the iconic figures of Benczúr’s work. Benczur presents one of the most decisive victories of Hungary’s thousand-year-old history in the painting that was prepared during the last millennium. In the picture, besides the periodic portraits and costumes, the patriotic thinking of the painter can be seen. Also included
The reverse side includes Benczur’s portrait, which is inspired by a photo published on the cover of the weekly national newspaper on the 4th February 1912. To the left of the portrait is a botanical and cherub motif, often painted by Benczur, and its source is from the 1893 Cupid Roses painting. The inscription GYULA BENCZÚR and years 1844-1920 (the year of birth and death of the artist), are placed beside Benczúr’s image to the left. The initials of Andrea Horváth, designer of the commemorative coin, appears in the clothing portion of Benczur.
|2,000 forint||Cupro-nickel||23.7 g||37 mm||Brilliant Unc.||5,000|
|10,000 forint||.925 silver||24 g||37 mm||Proof||5,000|
Each base metal and silver coin is encapsulated and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. A presentation case is available at an additional cost. For more information about these coins and others issued by the National Bank of Hungary, please visit the website of the Mint of Hungary. Collectors visiting Budapest can also visit the Mint of Hungary’s retail shop at Pénzverő Zrt. Budapest, Báthory u. 7.