The Emir of Lebanon

Text and Image: Hungarian National Gallery
Text and Image: Hungarian National Gallery. Painter: Borsos, József

The Emir of Lebanon is actually count Edmund Zichy (1811-1894) who spent most of his life in Vienna as a passionate art collector and a leading figure in the art life of Vienna and Pest. He was one of the founders of the Museum of Applied Art sin Vienna and a member of Vienna’s Künstlerhaus. The „prince” of Viennese painters, Hans Makart painted one of his few male portraits of him. Livin gin Vienna int he 1840s and earning a name as a portraitist, József Borsos painted Zichy’s portrait when he had returned from an oriental trip in 1842, presumably int he attire the count had worn during his visit to Soliman Pasha, a commander of the Egyptian forces stationed in Syria. The portrait is in line with the growing popularity of orientalism in architecture and with the cult of the East that was fed not only by researches into Hungarian noblemen’s tarditional way of living. The characteristic Hungarian features of philosophizing and taking time were often compared by Hungarian writers to Lebanon and the tradition of thousand-year-old cedar trees. Thus Zichy’s portrait is not only a fine specimen of the portraiture of the period but also the conveyor of a specific national programme.

More details: Hungarian National Gallery. Thousand-year-old cedar trees.

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