Philip de László

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Self portrait by Philip de László

Philip Alexius de László, MVO (30 April 1869 – 22 November 1937)[1] was a Hungarian painter known particularly for his portraits of royal and aristocratic personages. In 1900 he married Lucy Guinness of Stillorgan, co. Dublin and became a British citizen in 1914.

Early life[edit]

László was born in humble circumstances in Budapest as Laub Fülöp (Hungarian style with the surname first), the eldest son of Adolf and Johanna Laub, tailor and seamstress. Fülöp and his younger brother Marczi changed their name to László in 1891. He was apprenticed at an early age to a photographer while studying art, eventually earning a place at the National Academy of Art, where he studied under Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz. He followed this with studies in Munich and Paris. László's portrait of Pope Leo XIII earned him a Grand Gold Medal at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900. In 1903 László moved from Budapest to Vienna. In 1907 he moved to England and remained based in London for the remainder of his life, although endlessly travelling the world to fulfill commissions.

Later life[edit]

László's patrons awarded him numerous honours and medals. In 1909 he was named a Member of the Royal Victorian Order by King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. In 1912 he was ennobled by King Franz Joseph of Hungary; his surname then became "László de Lombos", but he soon was using the name "de László".

Despite his British citizenship, his marriage and five British sons, de László was interned for over twelve months in 1917 and 1918 during the First World War.[2] He was exonerated and released in June 1919.

Due to overwork de László suffered heart problems for the last years of his life. In October 1937 he had a heart attack and died a month later at his home in Hampstead, London. In 1939, the book Portrait of a Painter. The Authorized Life of Philip de László by Owen Rutter, written in conjunction with de László, was published. In 2010 Yale University Press published De László, His Life and Art by Duff Hart-Davis and Dr. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons.[3] 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 and a team of editors are compiling the catalogue raisonné :

Marriage and family[edit]

Lucy Guinness

In 1900 László married Lucy Madeleine Guinness, a member of the wealthy and well-connected Guinness family and a sister of Henry Guinness. They had first met in Munich in 1892, but for some years had been forbidden to see each other. Lucy de László's connections almost certainly brought her husband new commissions. They had six children (Photograph of László with his wife and sons):

  • Eva de László (born and died 1903, Budapest).[4]
  • Henry de László (died 1967); married Violet Staub (1927–1953); married Julianne Fischer (1955)
    • Michael Alexius de Laszlo (born 1935); married Barbara Behnke
      • Alexander de Laszlo (born 1959); married Elaine Reed
      • Kathryn de Laszlo (born 1964); married Stephen Marshal
    • Stephen Ernest de László; married Heather J. Jones
      • Saragh Mary de László (born 1988)
      • Christian Henry Paul de László (born 1990)
    • Pauline de László
  • Stephen Philip de László (died 7 January 1939); married Edith Alexandra Diana von Versen (died 30 December 1938)
  • Paul de László; married Josephine N.
    • Christopher Paul de László; married April 1967 Helen Genia Arntzen (née Gerling)
    • Jane Marie de László; married 1966 William Haywood Ruffin
  • (fourth son) Patrick David de László (died October 1980); married 1stly Hon. Deborah Greenwood (died 11 November 1980; daughter of Hamar Greenwood, 1st Viscount Greenwood); married 2ndly 1977 Pamela Newall, Baroness Sharples (born 1923) as her second husband; married (div by 1975) Penelope Anne Kitson (née Steele) as her third husband.[5] Patrick and Deborah had issue:
    • Damon Patrick de László married 1972 Hon. Sandra Daphne Hacking (daughter of Douglas Eric Hacking, 2nd Baron Hacking)
      • Lucy Deborah de László (born 1975)
    • Stephanie Gay de László married 1978 Dr. Roger Stanley Williams, CBE
      • Clemency Lucy Williams (born 1979)
      • Aidan Paul Hammar Williams (born 1981)
      • Octavia Julian Williams (born 1983)
    • Charmian de László
    • Meriel de László married James Kitson
      • John Kitson married Victoria Hyde
      • Philip Kitson
      • Robert Kitson
  • (fifth son) John Adolphus de László (died 1990) married 1stly Peggy Hennessy (née Cruise, daughter of Sir Richard Robert Cruise, GCVO, surgeon oculist to Queen Mary), by whom one son and possibly more children.[6] He married ca. 1954 (divorced ca. 1977) Rosemary Townsend, née Pawle (died 2004), former wife of Group Captain Peter Townsend, as her second husband, and had issue one son and one daughter with her (plus two stepsons Giles and Hugo Townsend by her first marriage).
    • Martin Richard de László (son of Peggy Hennessy); married 7 February 1967[7] Mary Gwendolen Freeman, daughter of Lady Winefride Freeman, née Fitzalan-Howard (1914–2006), youngest daughter of Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk).[8] and had three children, who are in remainder to the Barony Herries of Terregles:
      • Rupert de Laszlo (b. 1968), a company director.
      • Oliver de Laszlo (b. 1971)
      • Lydia de Laszlo (b. 1980)
    • (by Peggy Hennessy?) Lavinia de Laszlo
    • (by Rosemary Townsend, later Marchioness Camden) Piers de László, an artist.[9]
    • (by Rosemary Townsend, later Marchioness Camden) Charlotte Watkins, née de László.

László had seventeen grandchildren.[10]

Selected works[edit]

People painted[edit]

People painted by László include the following:

Helen 8th Duchess of Northumberland [16]



  1. ^ "Philip Alexius de László, M.V.O., P.R.B.A., 1869 Budapest – 1937 London" from the website The De Laszlo Archive Trust. Retrieved 15 August 2007. [1]
  2. ^ Giles MacDonogh. "Parlour games" The Guardian Saturday 20 December 2003. [2] Retrieved 15 August 2007. The article states that "László had not only painted the Austrian foreign secretary, Count Berchtold, regarded by many as responsible for the war; he had also been ennobled by Emperor Franz Josef in 1912. After warnings, he was arrested in the summer of 1917 and accused of making contact with the enemy by sending letters to his mother and brother. He was locked up in Brixton prison and Holloway internment camp as an enemy alien. He didn't sympathise with the enemy: the range of his sitters reveals his even-handedness. He was released due to ill-health, but was not vindicated until the summer of 1919. He had been unable to paint anyone outside his own family for two years.
  3. ^
  4. ^ [3],. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
  5. ^ Penelope Anne Kitson née Steele was the chief female beneficiary under the will of Jean Paul Getty. Her daughter Juliet Kitson was the first wife of the present Henry Conyngham, 8th Marquess Conyngham, and mother of his heir Earl Mount Charles, and a daughter Lady Henrietta Conyngham, who married Thomas Anson, 6th Earl of Lichfield.
  6. ^ This transcript and recording mention some of his children.
  7. ^ This source cites Burke's Peerage as its source
  8. ^ Martin Richard de Laszlo
  9. ^ "Three generations of de Laszlo paintings went on show..." Evening Standard, 10 December 2005, online version
  10. ^ Suzy Menke's article, "A Hungarian artist's brush with grandeur" The International Herald Tribune Friday 9 January 2004, about the exhibition says that 16 of the 17 turned up for the opening party.[]
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Portrait of a painter
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Laszlo; A Brush with Grandeur
  13. ^ Allen, David E. The Botanists. St Paul's Biographies 1986 p.104
  14. ^ The Studio, 105 (418), January 1928
  15. ^ a b Scone Palace
  16. ^ Alnwick Castle

External links[edit]