Júlia Knoll and Ivey Ford Barna: Background to three portraits of Joseph Knoll


       There are three portraits (photos of portraits) of Joseph Knoll (1925-2018) in INHN’s Archives in the Knoll Collection. Chronologically, the first is a black and white portrait of Joseph Knoll, commissioned through the Erdesz Art Gallery in Szentendre  by Knoll’s second wife, Berta Knoll, to commemorate her husband’s 75th birthday. It is an oil on canvas, measuring 120x120 cm and was created by the artist Laszlo Feher (b. 1953) in Knoll’s Budapest residence on May 10, 2000. Feher is a contemporary Hungarian artist whose art, Knoll himself an art collector, very much appreciated. The painting has been displayed throughout the years in the Knoll Collection in Budapest at his home and is still there. It was inherited by his beloved grandchildren in Budapest.

       The second was painted by Laszlo Szekeres (1921-2012). This yellow backgrounded portrait of Joseph Knoll in 2005 is the most natural of his portraits and has a fascinating history cemented in the friendship of two men. Knoll's long lasting, very close friend Szekeres was the Professor of Szent-Gyögyi Albert Medical University Szeged's Department of Pharmacology which coincided with Knoll's Professorship at Semmelweis University of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology in Budapest. From the beginning of their entrance into their careers until Szekeres' death, they were close friends, both professionally and personally. They had a lot in common not only as Pharmacology Professors, but also because Szekeres was a published author and both had a shared passion for art. Knoll had a lifelong passion for art history and Szekeres was interested in both art history and the creation of art. For Knoll's 80th birthday, Szekeres painted this moving and expressive portrait of Knoll and dedicated it to him as seen in the bottom right corner accompanying his signature. It is an oil on canvas painting measuring 39x28.5 cm. Knoll owned many interesting landscapes painted by Szekeres, but they were unfortunately stolen during a winter robbery of Knoll's summer house in Szentendre. The "burglar had a good taste!" Knoll would later state, tongue and cheek. This portrait shows Knoll at 80 years old as the happy, pleasant man he is most remembered. Knoll's beloved grandkids love it out of the three portraits the most and it is in their Budapest home nearby the Knoll residence.

       The third is the art of Eva Karpati (b. 1936), a well known and talented Hungarian painter. This portrait of Joseph Knoll was commissioned by his wife, Berta Knoll, to commemorate his 84th birthday on May 30, 2009. This vivid and colourful painting shows Dr. Knoll in motion. It is also an oil on canvas measuring 59x88 cm. As a Holocaust survivor, Knoll purchased Karpati’s Vision, a very sad but powerful painting in blue color showing bold, sad, thin women in the storehouse, for his collection. He kept it as a memory of his beloved parents, who perished among millions in Auschwitz upon their arrival. This third portrait and Vision are in the Knoll collection in Budapest.


February 25, 2021