Street in Algiers, c. 1899
45×61cm oil on canvas
Signed bottom left: Tornai
He studied in Vienna, Munich and in Benczúr's master school in Budapest. Initially, he painted genres (Delicious Dish, La Dame aux Camélias), and later, as a result of his long travels (Italy, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, India, Japan) he turned his focus onto exotic themes. Odalisques, eunuchs, Saracens are depicted in his pictures in scrupulous detail, meticulous representation.
Tornai spent ten years in Marocco, from where he established himself as Hungary's leading orientalist painter. From Marocco he travelled to neighbouring Algeria and north African coast.
His works from this period,” the like of which for glory of colour and intese appreciation of the picturesqueness of the east had not been seen before” ( The Daily Graphic, 3 June,1907), gained him international recognition. Tornai went on to travel to India, Tibet and Japan. In 1907 he had a one man show at the Goupil Gallery in Regent Street, London, whereKing Edward VII bought one of his works.
His painting art, an imitation of Gyula Benczúr's style was very popular in its age. Several of his works are now held in the Hungarian National Gallery. He had exhibitions in Paris and London in 1907, in the Budapest Art Gallery in 1909 and in the National Salon in 1917. The Auction Mart organised an exhibition of his heritage in 1929.
Video Masters of Orientalist / The Shafik Gabr Collection