Biography of László Dombrovszky

  • László Dombrovszky painter was born on 7th of August 1894 in Orhei1, Bessarabia as Stanislaw Dombrowski.
  • His father, Sergej Dombrovszky, forest engineer, Polish wholesaler, his mother Russian-jewish Maria Aranov2 physician. Stanislaw spent his childhood in Vologda, graduated in Nyiznij Novgorod. His Western oriented parents sent him to Paris, to where finally his mother helped him to save him from the bloody events of the 1917 Revolution. The other members of the family, the parents and the two sisters, including their husbands became victims of the revolutional insanity.
  • Stanislaw Dombrowski during his life spent longer time in France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Bulgaria. In his youth it was Paris that opened him the path to become an individual artist. In the French capital among others he became the disciple of Matisse and Othon Friesz3 he visits the Julian Academy4 and is attracted by the École de Paris5 international artists’ spirituality that is determinative in the development of the artist’s oeuvre.
  • He settled in Hungary in 1921. He nationalized himself in order to make easier to integrate and living by the law option as the adopted son of Géza Szathmáry, he changed his name to László Dombrovszky-Szathmáry. He signed his paintings as Laszló Dombrovszky or simply Dombrovszky.
  • In 1924 together with István Szőnyi6 and Róbert Berény7 he was one of the founders of the Artist Colony in the village of Zebegény 8. However his French-school training differentiated, separated him from the Post-Nagybánya school9. Among the Hungarian artists the painting of Béla Czóbel10 and Róbert Berény affected him. These years he sought the balance between the schools of the École de Paris and Poszt-Nagybánya. In the sixtieth his youthfully soaring spirit shows similarities with Braque and Matisse. In his old age his art turned gradually into a more abstract direction that is on a basis of musical effects. At the same time, in their spirit the youthfully soaring works that Dombrovszky painted in the 1960s show – at one remove anyway – a relationship with Braque and Matisse, maturing from a once-time Fauve youngster into a classical master. Matisse, too, had in the early 20th century a private school that was frequented by young artists from Central and Eastern Europe. In his old age his art turned step by step to a more abstract direction based on musical effects. ‘His more individual style developed from the 1950s onwards,’ said Lajos Németh ‘in his art, structure became strong; he transcribed motifs in a more decorative manner, for instance using many arabesque-like elements. The contour lines played a linking role. The vital element in his art was rhythm, namely the rhythm of colours and lines, and the composition of his pictures was based on these main traits. He consciously endeavoured to obtain musical effects; many of his pictures could have borne the title ‘Improvisation’, also in the musical sense of the word.’ In fact, he played wonderfully the violin and piano; as relaxation, he was able to improvise music for hours. In 1969 with an interview given to Aliz Torday he said the following that can be considered as his ars poetica. He was an artist of few words (he preserved his foreign accent to the last), and his ars poetica quoted below formulated with an unaffected simplicity covers – we can be sure – the facts. ‘For me art is not a logical or speculative world,’ he once declared to the newspaper Fejér Megyei Hírlap, ‘but is emotional, like poetry. The truth of the artwork is different from everyday truth. At the same time truth – authenticity, in the sense of similitude – is not important. Every work of art has its own laws. The condition for creation is, however, always humane: it comes from a ‘pure wellspring’. He then quotes the classical concept: ‘The picture is always a complete whole.’ One must never take out one part and look at it separately. It is like an orchestral work, in which one does not listen to the instruments separately, but together, and only in this way do they produce the desired effect ... There is no life without music and colour, as the sound and colour are one of the appearing forms of the existence.”
  • During the Nazi occupation of Hungary he saved human lives illegally. He had close contact with Vilmos Forgács, one of the Raoul Wallenberg’s staff members who got acquainted Dombrovszky with the Swedish diplomat. So this way happened that, among others, the portrait of Wallenberg was painted.
  • László Dombrovszky died in Budapest, 30th April, 1982. His pictures can be found in Hungary, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden (Statens Porträttsamling på Gripsholm), in Italy, both in private and public collections.
  • During one period, between the two World Wars, he earned a living from painting portraits, primarily in Italy; the majority of these pictures as well as the works that remained in his atelier in Paris were, regrettably, lost after 1945: no traces of them could be found. From time to time his works come to light at auctions or in consequence of an unexpected event.

Solo Exhibitions

1944: Tamás Gallery11, Budapest
1961: Rákóczi Museum, Sárospatak
1967: István Csók Gallery, Budapest
1973: Ferenc Móra Museum, Szeged.
1974  and 1977: István Csók Gallery, Budapest
1984: Bottyán Vak Museum, Vác
1985: Vigadó Gallery, Budapest
2005: Budapest Gallery
2006: Zebegény, István Szőnyi Museum
2008: Győr, Esterházy Palace

Main Collective Exhibitions

1942: Tamás Gallery: Exhibition of Hungarian Watercolourists (Berény, Czóbel, Barcsay, Márffy, Huber Dési, Egry, Elekfy, Noémi Ferenczy, Ferenc Hatvany, Hincz, Kmetty, Pohárnok, Endre Vadász)
1942: (10 October–25 October) National Salon: Autumn Show – Exhibition by the Members
Up to 1968, he participated regularly in the exhibitions of fine arts organised at the Palace of Exhibitions, Budapest 
1946: 1st Exhibition of the Hungarian Movement for Fine Arts, Ernst Museum, Budapest
1947: Hungarian Art Weeks. Representative Fine Arts Exhibition, Ernst Museum, Budapest; 2nd Free National Exhibition by the Free Organisation of Hungarian Artists, Metropolitan Gallery, Budapest
1951: (4 November–2 December) 2nd Hungarian Fine Arts Exhibition, Palace of Exhibitions, Budapest  
1957: 3rd National Fine Arts Exhibition, Ottó Hermann Museum, Miskolc
1960: Among Working People. Art-Exhibition. Ernst Museum, Budapest 
1964: Winter Exhibition, Székesfehérvár. 
1968: (January) Among Working People. An Exhibition of Art. Ernst Museum, Budapest
1968: 11th Hungarian Fine Arts Exhibition, Ernst Museum, Budapest
1968: 4th Lake Balaton Summer Exhibition, Balaton Museum, Keszthely; Exhibition of Purchases Made by the State, Palace of Exhibitions, Budapest
1970: 2nd National Aquarelle Bienniale, Eger. 
1972: (25 June–22 July) 3rd Debrecen National Summer Exhibition ’72, Déri Museum, Debrecen
1973: (22 July–16 September) 14th Szeged Summer Exhibition, Ferenc Móra Museum, Szeged
1974: (20 August–20 September) 4th National Aquarelle Biennale, Eger 
1976: (20 August–20 September) 5th National Aquarelle Biennale, Eger
1978: (27 January–19 February) Painting ’77. An Exhibition by the Painters’ Division of the Association of Hungarian Fine Artists and Applied Artists
1980: Fine Arts Collection of the János Damjanich Museum (1970–1980), Szolnok
1980: Exhibition of Contemporary Fine Arts and Applied Arts, Szolnok County Museums Directorate, János Damjanich Museum, Szolnok

Works in public and private collections

Budapest, Municipal Picture Gallery • Janus Pannonius Museum, Pécs • Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest • Statens Porträttgalerie, Gripsholm, Sweden • Numerous Hungarian and foreign collections


Lajos Németh, introduction of the catalogue, Csók Gallery, Budapest, 1967,
Sándor Láncz, Művészet (Art), 1967/No.11.
Lajos Németh, Current exhibitions, New Hungarian Quarterly, 1967/27.
Exhibition calendar, in Művészet (Art), 1974/Nr.5.
József Vadas, Trees in main roles, Élet és Irodalom (Life and Literature), 25th of May 1974. 
János Frank, Intoduction of the catalogue of the Csók Gallery, Budapest, 1977
Lajos Németh, Introduction of the catalogue, Vác, Greek church, exhibition hall, 25th May, 1984
András Csanády, Introduction of the catalogue of the Vigadó Gallery, Budapest, 1985
Ottó Mezei-Ninette Dombrovszky, László Dombrovszky Exhibition catalogue, Budapest Gallery 2005
Ember, Mária: ‘Az ismeretlen Wallenberg-portré története’ [The History of an Unknown Wallenberg Portrait], Köztársaság, 29 May 1992 issue, pp. 82–83; idem: Wallenberg Budapesten [Wallenberg in Budapest], Budapest: Városháza, 2000, pp. 47–48


1985, 27th of June Petőfi Radio (edited by T. Endre Rózsa)


2005, Duna (Danube) TV: The exhibition of László Dombrovszky in the Budapest Gallery
  1. Orhei ( the Romanic pronunciation: Orhej), before: Orgeev, Russian: Оргеев;  Jiddish: Uriv – אוריוו. Can be found in Eastern- Moldavia, near
  2. On the basis of researches of Dr. Ninette Dombrowszky: from the archives of the Paris Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Judasme
  3. 4Achille-Emile Othon Friesz (Havre, February 6th1879– Paris, January 10th 1949) French painter. First he was influenced by the impressionism, later Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. He is one of the early Fauveists’ representatives.
  4. A private art school founded in Paris in 1867 by Rodolphe Julian (1839-1907), where many important artists studied
  5. This is not a concrete institution, but a term noting artists working in Paris from the period of the 1920-ies to the 60-ies. . „Le terme École de Paris sera gardé, parce qu’aucun autre ne peut mieux désigner, en ces années d’après-guerre, la suprématie de la capitale en matière d’art.”, Lydia Harambourg, Dictionnaire des peintres de l’École de Paris (1993)
  6. István Szőnyi (Újpest, 1894-Zebegény, 1960) painter, rpepresentative of the Post-Nagybánya school, rewarded by Jad Vashem.
  7. Róbert Berény (Budapest, March 18th,1887-Budapest, September 10th, 1953). An important figure of the Hungarian Avant-Garde movement, the Hungarian Fauves. In the 1930-ies his style approached to the traditions of the Post-Nagybánya school.
  8. the village of Zebegény is in the picturesquely beautiful Danube Bend
  9. Post-Nagybánya School: Nagybánya is an old miner village, center, and headquarter of the county Máramaros Rumania. In 1896 it was in the Nagybánya artist colony where the movement started founding the modern Hungarian painting bringing the plain-air art into the Hungarian fine arts. The Post-Nagybánya school definition means forwarding its tradition to most different Hungarian art-schools.
  10. Béla Czóbel (Budapest, September 4th, 1883-Budapest, January 30th, 1976) Avant-Garde painter, significant painter of the Hungarian Fauves, influenced by German expressionism, cubism. Representative of the École de Paris.
  11. The date is at the same time the very day of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, March 19th 1944