Sandra de Laszlo: From Pest to Palaces, the Extra-Ordinary Life and Career of Philip Alexius de László

Tuesday, 23 September, 7pm at the HCC

Philip de László / László Fülöp (1869–1937) was born in Budapest. From the age of 11 he worked as an apprentice in various trades and finally as a photographer’s assistant where he copied the portrait photographs he was employed to retouch. His talent was noticed by a philanthropic nobleman, who helped him gain a state scholarship to the Arts and Crafts School. He later won a place at the Drawing School (now the Academy of Fine Art) in Budapest. There he studied under two of the best and most influential Hungarian painters of the time, Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz. Later he also studied in Munich and Paris. In 1903 he moved to Vienna then, in 1907, to London where he spent the rest of his life. His reputation still remains largely as a society portrait painter, but well numbered amongst his sitters were industrialists and scientists, politicians and painters, men and women of letters and many other eminent, as well as ordinary people.

Sandra de Laszlo, Founding Editor of the de László Catalogue Raisonné is married to Damon de Laszlo, one of the artist’s 7 grandsons. She is a self-taught art historian, starting with the Diploma at the Study Centre for the History of the Fine & Decorative Arts at the Victoria and Albert Museum 1972–73. For eleven years she worked part-time in the Picture Department at Spink and Son; as a Guide at the then Tate Gallery and at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital for their Healing Arts Programme. She has been working on the catalogue raisonné since she dared to write her first letter to an owner, a complete stranger in New York, in 1989. She was co-curator with Christopher Wood and Richard Ormond of the de László exhibition, A Brush with Grandeur, at Christie’s London in January 2004, compiling and editing the catalogue entries for the accompanying book. This exhibition was the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Magyar Magic festival of Hungarian culture, put on by the Hungarian Cultural Centre to celebrate Hungary’s arrival into the European Union. Sandra was awarded the Pro Cultura Hungarica Plaque for this work.

She was co-curator for the exhibition De László in Holland at the Museum van Loon, Amsterdam, March – June 2006, and British Editor of the book De László in Holland. In 2010 the National Portrait Gallery in London mounted a Special Display: Philip de László, Portraits, to celebrate the completion of the indexing of the artist’s papers by Sandra’s team – a 5-year endurance test of transcribing and translating some 15,000 letters and documents. The catalogue raisonné is still very much in progress and the illustrated picture descriptions are published online – Sandra and her editors are currently working to attain the 1,000 mark (the equivalent of some four catalogue raisonné books on paper) – which may be less than one quarter of the final count of portraits painted by de László.

Free but booking is required. Please call 020 7240 8448 or email