British photographic history

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Just returned from Budapest, where I have been carrying out more research on Iván Szabó, including a visit to the fortress of Komárom which he helped defend against Austrian forces during the siege of 1849. During this visit I was very fortunate to be accompanied by Dr Gyula Kedves, Director of the Military Museum in Budapest, and an expert on both Komárom and the 1848-49 war. Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the Hungarian House of Photographers at Mai Manó Haz in Nagymezõ Utca, housed in the former studio of the photographer Mai Manó (1855-1917) - an absolutely magnificent building, both inside and out. Part of Saturday morning was spent scouring the flea market, where I found some interesting cartes-de-visites. I was also able to view some of the architectural photographs kept in the collections of the Kulturális Örökségvédelmi Hivatal. Altogether an inspiring visit - my love of Budapest and its photographic traditions continues to grow....

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Comment by James Downs on May 24, 2011 at 17:28

Marcel -  many thanks for your comment. Yes, the background to Szabó's emigration and the story of his  remarkable success were fascinating to research, although he is only one from a large number of Hungarians who took their talents in film and photography to other countries.  Exact details of Iván Szabó's roots in Transylvania are proving hard to trace, but I have not yet given up hope; several photographers bear this name – it is common in Hungary, being the equivalent of Taylor/Tailor – and I have no evidence suggesting any blood relationship between Iván and any other e.g. Joseph or Samuel.  You would love Budapest for its Liszt connections! There are a number of buildings and museums in the city associated with him, and his music is regularly played and celebrated – there were at least two Liszt concerts being performed during the week I was there.The cdvs I picked up were late 19th century - 1880 was the earliest: a portrait of a a young girl named Irma Szabó. There were a few earlier ones in the market I visited, although their condition was variable. Several antiquarian book shops I visited had boxes of old postcards and cdvs for sale too. A more systematic research would probably turn up some from the wet plate era.

Comment by Marcel Safier on May 24, 2011 at 13:29
James, It is quite interesting that a Hungarian such as Szabo should become ensconced in Scotland and end up taking photos of the Talbots, Brewster, D O Hill and Horatio Ross. Have you established if there is a connection with Samuel Szabo? I look forward to a visit to Hungary/Budapest in the next few years having long ago become fascinated by Franz Liszt and nowadays in exploring the photographic history of the country. Were you able to locate many wet plate era cdvs made in Hungary? Cheers! Marcel, Brisbane, Australia.

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