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Early Genre Painting

As a young man, Károly Ferenczy first studied in Naples and Munich, before moving to Paris to enroll in the Julian Academy. He had left his family in Budapest and only spent the summers in Hungary. After two years of study he returned to Hungary, settling with his family in Szentendre, the place where he painted the most significant pieces of his early period in quick succession. The figures in these compositions, distinguished by their restrained color scheme and an earl-grey overall tone, seem to carry on with their everyday activities. The girls work in the garden, tending flowers, while the young lads occupy themselves with throwing pebbles in the Danube. We get a glimpse of the characteristic figures of this small town, the porters and the female domestics standing in front of wall posters. In the background we see the roofs and spires of Szentendre. The first works depicting the artist's family members were also born here: this was where Ferenczy painted the portraits of his father, brother and wife.

Ferenczy once described these minutely detailed and often lyrical mood paintings as "fine naturalism", before he moved on and rejected them: I knew neither art nor Nature sufficiently enough to stand to benefit from my isolated life in Szentendre, he wrote in connection with his first individual exhibition in 1903.