The eldest brother Sándor was born in Túrkeve in 1881. Gergely was born in 1883, István and Árpád followed them, and the also-famous Sámuel was born in 1892. They had two sisters: Rózsi and Mária. At the end of the 1880s, the family left the town and moved to Nagyvárad. Sándor acquired mechanic and railway officer qualifications. Gergely learned to be a stonecutter sculptor and due to his early-developed talent, he soon received orders after his studies ended.
Shortly afterwards, Sándor and István had a trauma in their lives due to a scandal. Their sister Mária worked at a dressmaker’s shop with some other girls, employed by a widow Mrs. Lajos Szabó, who gave them other work as well, but not sewing. When it turned out, the infuriated brothers rushed at the widow, for which Sándor got 12 years imprisonment and István received 8 years. István’s health deteriorated during the captivity and died early. Sándor, who had a middle-class profession until then, turned to arts in that difficult period. Gergely was afraid that the family’s name was defiled thus, he took the alias name Oszkár Zádory and moved to Paris in 1906. He did not split up with his brothers though: their correspondence remained for the posterity.
Albin Uhlyarik, director of the prison of Szamosújvár, recognized the artistic vein in Sándor and gave him fitting tasks at the smithery. Sándor proved to be so talented that the director charged him with taking photos of the prisoners too. Sándor was self-educated: he made embossments, plaques and statues, and even received orders. When he was released in 1913, he was already an acknowledged sculptor. He got married, fought in WW 1 and afterwards lived for sculpting. He received many assignments for making statues to public squares, mainly military memorials.
Sándor and his second wife Kata Kántor (applied artist) moved to Brazil in 1920, and to New York in 1923. He created the Studio Finta there and participated in artistic life actively – he was even elected a member of the New York Academy of Art. He also wrote; his most famous writing is Kisbojtár that is based on his childhood experiences. After WW 2, Sándor lived and worked in Los Angeles. He gained the jubilee gold medal of the Painters and Sculptors Club in 1948. After his death, his legacy was sent to Hungary in 1958 – according to his last will – and is guarded by the Finta Museum of Túrkeve now.
There are less remaining information about Gergely Finta, alias Zádory. The photo material about his orders in France survived: they were upper middle class women and children’s portraits mostly. He could work next to his role model Rodin for a while in Paris. The spreading of the art-nouveau-style applied art influenced his career positively: he made a number of ornaments, porcelain figures for mass production.
After that WW 1 broke out, he was taken to the detention camp of Noirmoutier, where he was imprisoned together with Aladár Kuncz, whose book about his experiences at the camp (Fekete kolostor) made him famous later. After five years of imprisonment, he repatriated in Túrkeve in 1919. He kept in touch with Kuncz later on, and they managed to organise an exhibition in 1920 composed of bone miniatures carved during detention. The miniatures became famous, as Kuncz praised them in the magazine Nyugat, thus critics also noticed Zádory.
He married at the beginning of the 1920s and longed to be in Paris: he wanted to search for his works that he had left there, and missed rollicking artists’ life as well. Of course, this latter could not be brought back after the horrors of the World War. He moved to Budapest as of 1931, then to Túrkeve, and finally he found shelter at his friend’s Kálmán Kopa. His sculpts that were brought to Hungary were first exhibited in Túrkeve in 1936, and later they were taken to their final place, to the Finta Museum that safeguards the oeuvres of Finta brothers. The artist brothers had always wished to make a joint collection, to settle down in Hungary and work together in one atelier. Unfortunately, it could not be realised. Zádory died in a sanatorium in Budakeszi in 1947.
Sámuel turned to sculpture owing to his brothers’ incitation. First, he studied tombstone graving. Similarly to his brothers he also took part in the WW 1. Afterwards he settled down in Budapest; he had an atelier at 44 Bajza Street, where he made statue portraits and shrines. He often invited his brothers to his home and helped them in their art. Besides sculpture, he also pursued graphics and a special artistic activity: cutting paper silhouettes. The technique comes from the 17th century; it was used for making black and white portraits at the dawn of photography. In the 20th century, the cheap and quick process was reinvented as a profitable artistic enterprise on places frequented by tourists, just like portrait painters or cartoonists in the streets nowadays. Even a volume was published with Sámuel’s silhouette illustrations in 1922, with the title Árnyképes ABC (Silhouette ABC). Similarly to Gergely, he moved back to Túrkeve in the 1930s already as a sculptor artist. In 1967, the Museum of Túrkeve took on the name Finta, and Sámuel – who was the last living member of the triumvirate – could live to see it. The permanent exhibition (consisting of Sándor’s and Gergely’s works mostly) of the sculptor brothers was opened then, and was completed with Sámuel’s works later.
Translated by Zita Aknai
- Egri Mária - Dr. Györffy Lajos: A Finta művésztestvérek élete és munkássága. Szolnok-Túrkeve, 1973.
(Source of the cover image: www.fintamuzeum.hu)