Work & Bio

Nicholas Hornyansky

Born in 1896
 / Died in 1965

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Biography

HORNYANSKY, Nicholas

Born in Budapest, Hungary, he was working as a colour mixer in the printing office of his father by the time he was 12. He then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, under Prof. Ballo (portrait painting) and Prof. Pasteiner (aesthetics). When he was 16 years of age he was co-exhibitor in the Grand Salon of Budapest. After he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, he did post graduate studies in Vienna, Munich, Antwerp and Paris. He then went to Belgium about 1919 (as an accomplished portrait painter) and was associated with the School of Hens where he worked with Franz Hens doing landscape painting. By then he had held two one man shows in Antwerp and three in Brussels, and he had established himself in the field of etching as well. His works were acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts (Print Cabinet), Antwerp; Museum Moderne, Ghent, Antwerp; and in private collection of the Dowa­ger Queen Elizabeth of Belgium. After spending nine years in Belgium he travelled to England where he painted the portraits of Lord Newton at London (this portrait was placed in the Senate of the Upper Houses of Hungary) and of the Baroness Miriam Rothschild at Trink Castle. He then went to Paris where he studied simul­taneous colour aquatint printmaking with Sagnelonge and etching under Aba-Novak. He had an edition studio in Brussels for a time. He came to Canada in 1929 and settled in Toronto, where he first exhibited his figure paintings, and his “Ice-Man” received the attention of critics and artists alike. He began to exhibit with the Royal Canadian Academy and the Ontario Society of Artists annual shows and did much to advance printmaking in Canada. During his career he had been influenced by Van Eyck; Breughel (The Younger); El Greco, later in printmaking by Diego Rivera; his last period he developed a very unique style of his own. In 1943 William Colgate noted his ‘high pitched colour plates which so often sing in a major key’. Hornyansky had become actively involved with the Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers and was their manager for the touring exhibitions as early as 1939. In 1948 Paul Duval noted his etchings as ‘fastidiously finished land­scape reports’ using for example Hornyansky’s “North Wall, Ardua” a beautiful nature scene (the north wall being a large rock forming part of the bank of a small river or lake). His “Ice Shanties, Parry Sound” (a scene of ice fishing huts) has been a favourite choice of industrial firms for their Christmas cards. This is an unusually fine and colourful work, depicting winter on an inlet of Georgian Bay. The scene is filled with warmth and humanity. He was recognized not only as a printmaker but as a painter of marked ability. Retrospective exhibitions of his work were held at the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery (Sept. 1967); The Lionel Clarke Galleries Toronto (October and first week of Nov. 1967); The Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery and Museum of Fine Art, Owen Sound, Ont., (April, 1968) and probably elsewhere. During one period of his life his prints were better known in the U.S.A. through the exhibitions of: California Printmakers; Philadelphia Society of Etchers; Northwest Printmakers (Seattle); American Academy of Design; Prairie Printmakers (Kansas); Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art; Society of American Etchers (New York); Southern Printmakers (Mount Airy); and the American Colour Print Society of Philadelphia. A retrospective one man show of his prints was held at St. Peters­burgh, Florida, U.S.A. in 1960. He taught printmaking at the Ontario College of Art (metal plate media) from 1945 to 1958. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1943. He was also a member of the following societies: Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers & Engravers (Pres. 1943-1958); American Color Print Society (Philadelphia), and the Ontario Society of Artists. His awards include: “Fifty Prints Of the Year” (1932 and 1933) sponsored by the American Federation of Art; The G.A. Reid Silver Memorial Award (1955); Sterling Trust’s First Purchase Award (awarded by the C.P.E.); E.A. Klein First Purchase Award (Philadelphia); he has exhibited throughout the world and is represented in the following collections: National Gallery of Canada; Royal Ontario Museum (print Collection); National Print Collection (Library of Congress, U.S.A.); New Mexico Museum (Santa Fe); Pennsylvania Museum of Art (Philadelphia) and Musée Plantyn (Antwerp); Hart House, U. of T.; The John Ross Robertson Collection, (Tor. Pub. Lib.). He was Life Fellow, International Institute of Arts and Letters.

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada