Francis de Erdely

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About this artist

Francis de Erdely (born Ferenc de Erdély) was renowned in Europe and the United States for his powerful figure paintings and drawings as well as for his teaching abilities. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Budapest, from 1919 to 1923, and later attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid and the Sorbonne in Paris. He first exhibited in 1924 in Madrid and Barcelona. De Erdely was commissioned to paint, a portrait of Maria Cristina, who had been queen regent of Spain until 1902, and for that painting was awarded the Színyei-Merse Grand Prize in Budapest in 1925.
In the 1930s his art changed as he became increasingly troubled by the effect of war on humanity, a subject that would dominate much of his art for the rest of his life. His antiNazi paintings eventually made it necessary for him to flee Europe. He arrived in the United States in 1939 and after a year in the East settled in Detroit. His solo exhibitions in New York and Detroit drew favorable comments from leading newspaper critics who extolled the vitality of his drawing and his ability to probe the depths of human experience. Although he painted landscapes, still lifes, and portraits, he became best known for his figure compositions.

In 1944 he moved to California and exhibited his war paintings and drawings, which were favorably compared with the Disasters of War etchings by Francisco Goya (1746-1828). In these poignant works de Erdely expressed emotion through meticulously refined, anatomical drawing.

De Erdely was dean of the Pasadena Art Institute School for two years, 1944-46. His longest and most influential academic affiliation was with the University of Southern California, where he taught from 1945 until his death in 1959.

Ernest W. Watson, "The Art of Francis de Erdely," American Artist 12 (May 1948): 22-27, 59-61 § Obituary, Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1959, pt. 1, p. 39 § Pasadena (Calif.) Art Museum, Francis de Erdely, 1904-1959, exh. cat., 1960, with essay by Arthur Millier § Beverly E. Johnson, "De Erdely: The Master Draftsman," Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1960, Home Magazine, pp. 20-21, 84 § Moure 1975, pp. 12, 39, with bibliography.