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The Zichy family








Szent-Miklos Palota Vedrod Vezsony Daruvar Csics


The history of Zichy (of Zich and Vasonykeo) goes back to the 13th century. It was a well-known and respected Magyar family whose first known authentic ancestor was named Zayk, which was in fact the name of the family until it came in the possession of Zich in the 1st century. 
In the 1679
it was given courtly rank through the imperial general Stefan Zichy who died in 1693, and the Zichy line thereafter divided in the manner shown above. (The Palota line died out in 1874 and the Csics line is also extinct - and the Zichy-Karlburg in 1811 took the name Zichy-Ferraris). After that the Zichy family reads like the Blue Book with men of wealth, influence and artistic skills. Here are some of the names:

Count Karoly Zichy: Austrian war minister in 1809 and minister of interior 1813-1814.

Count Ferdinand Zichy (son of Karoly): Austrian field-marshal

Count Odon Zichy: Administrator of the county of Veszprem. Hanged on the 30th September 1948 on orders from a Hungarian court-marshal for treason.

Count Ferenc Zichy (1811-1894): Secretary of state in the Szechenyi ministry of 1848. He retired when the revolution broke out and joined the imperial side. From 1874 to 1880 he was Austrian ambassador in

Count Odon Zichy (II) (1811-1894): Active in promoting art and industry in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and founder of the Oriental Museum in Vienna.

Count Eugen Zichy (son of Odon II) (born: 1837): Took up his father's position and traveled to Caucasus and Central Asia - afterwards writing books about the travels.

Count Ferdinand Zichy (II) (born: 1829): Vice-president of the Hungarian Stadtholdership. Condemned under the press laws in 1863, elected to the Hungarian Parliament in 1867 and one of the founders of the Catholic People's Party.

Count Aladar Zichy (son of Ferdinand II) (born: 1864): Also active in the Catholic People's Party but later to turn to the Andrassy Constitutional Party.

Count Géza Zichy: The pianist.

Géza Zichy as a young man

Count Mihaly Zichy (born: 1829): Painter who was appointed imperial court painter in St. Petersburg and accompanied the imperial Russian family on its travels. 
At first he stydying law in Pest from 1842 but at the same time he attended Jakab Marastoni's Painting school. In Vienna he became Waldmüller's pupil in 1844 and developed into a major representative of Hungarian romantic painting. He swore allegiance to freedom by painting the portrait of Lajos Batthány, the first Hungarian prime minister, in 1849 and from 1850 onwards, he worked as a retoucher, but he also did pencil drawings, water colours and portraits in oil. On Waldmüller's recommendation, he became an art teacher in St. Petersburg where he spent most of his life. 
The series on the Gatsina hunting ordered by the Russian tsar raised him to a court artist. He founded a society to support painters in need. Autodafé on the horrors of Spanish inquisition was painted in 1868. He travelled around Europe in 1871, and settled down in Paris in 1874.  The Victory of the Genius of Destruction painted for the Paris Exhibition was banned by French authorities because of its daring antimilitarist message. He left Paris in 1881 and returned to St. Petersburg after a short stay in Vienna and the county Zala. From this time onwards, he was mostly engaged with illustrations (The Tragedy of Man by Madách, 1887, and Twenty-four ballads of János Arany, 1894-98).

Mihaly Zichy
(1827, Zala - 1906, St. Petersburg)

Some of his pictures have later given him a somewhat unfavorable reputation due to their motives, which today would probably be called pornographic. But then Rembrandt and Matisse could also be very pornographic. It is all a question of definition. When I studied law at the University in Copenhagen a professor of mine explained the definition of pornography like this: If you take a picture of a nude woman from top to heel, it is called art. If you take the picture from heel to heel - its called pornography. Rembrandt, Matisse, Boucher and Zichy certainly didn't know that.

Back to Géza Zichy