This collection of portraits represents the whole of Hungarian painting in the 1930s. Its collector - whose name is unfortunately unknown - must have had an exceptional gift for recognising quality; he had been able to choose pieces of art that proved to remain popular all through the years.
Collecting drawings had been the privilege of artists and highly cultured dealers for centuries. Drawings were said to have been the most important proofs of craftsmanship and talent; as the most archaic genre, drawing had always been held in great repute. According to Pliny, the first piece of art was a drawing as well: a girl contoured the shadow of her leaving lover on the wall so as to 'keep' him for herself. Since then, drawing has represented memory, and this function is also important in the case of this collection.
In the first years of the 20th century Hungarian drawing art became more and more independent. One of the most important reasons was the line-centred representation of Art Nouvo. While drawing had had secondary importance for centuries, during this time it became of equal rank with painting. Rippl-Rónai's drawings, for example, represented the style and quality of the artist as completely as his paintings.
Drawings, being very instinctive pieces, are able to mediate a very authentic picture of the artist's inner emotional affairs. Many of the dealers of the first half of the 20th century turned towards the art of drawing; Rudolf Bedő's, Pál Majovszky's or Béla Radnai's names can be mentioned here.
Most pieces of the collection under discussion are self-portraits, which makes the collected characteristic of the series even more emphatic. If we may use a most famous comparison, one can mention the portrait-gallery of the Uffizi in Florence, a collection made by the Medicis, consisting of more than six hundred self-portraits.
The collection presented here represents all the Hungarian trends of the 1930s. Kernstok, Márffy, Czóbel, Berény and Poór belonged to the group 'Nyolcak', Szőnyi and Bernáth to the leading artists of the Gresham-circle; Kmetty represents the activists, Dávid Jándi the second generation of Nagybánya, Scheiber and Kádár the decorative trend of avantgarde, Adolf Fényes the Plain-school, Frigyes Frank and Zoltán Klie the École de Paris, Béla Czóbel and Géza Bene the trend of Szentendre. Some first-rate self-portraits and a photograph evoke the outstanding figures of Hungarian sculpture: László Mészáros's, Pál Pátzay's, Géza Csorba's and Fülöp Ö. Beck's drawings show the tradition of collecting sculptures' drawings. The two high points of the collection are Noémi Ferenczy's figure of a weaving girl and Derkovits's self-portrait.