The Sunday Section: Art - Géza Vastagh

The first time I heard of this artist and saw his work was at the Russell-Cotes Museum, here in Bournemouth, at an exhibition that featured wild animals, mainly lions.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about this Hungarian painter.

Géza Vastagh was born in September 1866 in Cluj-Napoca, the largest city and informal capital of Transylvania, Romania.  His ancestors were Székely, the ethnic Hungarian people of Transylvania.  His father was a painter, and one of his brothers was a sculptor.

In 1886, he left to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he exhibited at the Glaspalast, a glass and iron exhibition building, modelled after London’s Crystal Palace.  He returned to Budapest two years later.  The following year, in 1889, he went on a study tour of France.  In 1898, thanks to a state scholarship, he was able to go to Algeria and Tunisia, where he spent four months studying the living conditions of, and sketching wild animals, mainly lions.

Most, if not all, his paintings featured animals, from lions and tigers to Hungarian grey cattle, hens and ducks.

Géza Vastagh died, aged only 53, in November 1919 in Budapest.

Compared t Briton Riviere's paintings, some might say that Vastagh’s lack a certain something.  Personally, I like his depictions of the big cats; in my opinion, his art shows their power, and also their more tranquil side.

I haven’t included the titles of some of the paintings as I can’t seem to find adequate translations.

'The Lion's Domain' (1893)

'Ducks on the Riverbank'

(Hungarian cattle)

'A Family of Lions'

'Lioness Ready to Pounce'

'A Lion Walking'


'Border Lion'

'Barbary Lions Fighting'

'A Lion in the Snow' (1900)

'Reclining Lion' (1909)

This is the painting at the Russell-Cotes that introduced me to Géza Vastagh ~