There are only one or two scenes int he openin Benczúr’s oeuvre, although for his generations, beginning their career around 1870, upcoming impressionism was a hardly avoidable challenge. Around 1874-1875 Benczur tried to capture the form-dissolving effect of light in several compositions, but he resumed his course by wholly discarding plein air painting. As his letter reveal, he exhibited the first variant if this composition in Vienna in 1873 and sold it in London in 1874. He probably repeated the picture showing his wife Karolina Max for family reasons in 1875. The multitude of sketches, pencil drawings made for the painting suggests the absorbed examination of the motif. The special appeal of the painting is the colour composition based ont he fresh harmony of red and green, and the modern representation of women unconventional int he 19th century. The reading woman lying casually in the grass represents a modern intellectual type of woman that was hardly ever seen in earlier paintings. Among Benczúr’s pencil studies one also finds a sketch of Karolina smoking a cigarette, which also shows the otherwise exemplary housewife as an early representative of modern women.


  • Title: Woman Reading in a Forest
  • Date Created: 1875
  • size: 87,5 x 116,5 cm
  • Technique: Oil , Canvas
  • Painter: Benczúr, Gyula
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Hungarian National Gallery, Hungarian National Gallery
  • External Link: Hungarian National Gallery

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