Gombos Székely Lilly
Budapest, 1897 - Paris, 1973
Her life was an attempt to find fulfillment within herself.
The words of the painter herself best describe her work: “In my portraits, I want to capture the depths of the human soul and if I manage to achieve this, I will be content with myself.”
Studying painting from an early age
Because she manifested an interest in art from an early age, Lilly Gombos was admitted to the Superior School of Fine Arts in Budapest at only 15 years old.
In the second half of the 1910s, she studied at the Artists' Colony in Kecskemét under the direction of master Béla Iványi Grünwald. Just as early, since 1912, she presented her work at exhibitions in Műcsarnok (Budapest).
In 1918 she participated in the colony’s group exhibition and in the 1920s she traveled to Paris. There, she continued her painting studies at one of the most popular private art schools of the time, the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, among students who were important representatives of European art, such as Tamara de Lempicka, Alberto Giacometti, and Amedeo Modigliani.
Her success in Paris recognized at home
In 1927, Lilly Gombos participated in a group exhibition in the Parisian space “La Jeune Parque”, in which she presented Parisian and Hungarian landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. Her paintings in the Salon des Independants exhibition were well received, so the Budapest press reported on the artist's successes in Paris, in 1929. In 1932, at the group exhibition in the National Salon in Budapest, she presented more than 35 artworks, several of which were made in the French capital. The artist, who had been working in Paris for many years, organized a personal exhibition in 1936 at the Carmine Gallery.
Capturing the depths of the human soul
Although she had a greater reputation in Paris, a Hungarian magazine from Budapest published a series of interviews with renowned Hungarian artists such as herself. About her art and her achievements, the artist confessed: “In the case of portraits, my critics (among whom I can mention also the world-renowned esthetician Louis Vauxcelles) emphasized the harmony of white and silver. I exhibited works at the Salon Francais, La Jeune Parque, the Salon des Independants, and most recently, at the Galerie Carmine in 1936. Even the capital's museum was bought from me in 1932, and a painting of mine is owned by a Parisian collector, Valerie. In my portraits, I want to capture the depths of the human soul and if I manage to achieve this, I will be content with myself.”
Paris, her amour
“Blonde model on the sofa”, the painting from our collection, clearly reflects the Parisian influences. The work depicts a female nude sitting on the sofa, surrounded by the vivid colors of the interior.
It was most likely done around 1932, or so has the magazine Színházi Élet written in an October issue, when they published a photo of Lilly sketching a model in her studio and this painting was showing in the background. Art historian Magdolna Hársfalvi commented on the nudes painted by the artist: “In the paintings of Lilly Gombos, who was successful in Paris in the late 1920s, the female body is not a passive element part of the composition, but an active protagonist”.