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Imre Goth was a well known Hungarian portraitist and figurative painter who: in less than a minute could scribble a portrait on the back of a menu card - a good one too - and offer it in payment for his meal. The waiters seldom accepted them at the time, though any still in existence would be worth hundreds now. He continued to behave like this even when well off, laughing and saying that at one time it was the only way he had survived (1).

Goth studied at Budapest Academy and later in Berlin in the 1920s with Arthur Kampf. As he achieved recognition as a portrait painter, he received commissions from the stars of the emerging Berlin film industry, and in the early 1930s he was commissioned to paint both Field Marshall Goering and his wife. In 1935 he showed a collection of his works at the New Galleries in Birmingham and with favourable criticism, decided to immigrate to England. Through his friendship with the Hungarian film producer Alexander Korda and his success in Birmingham, he was commissioned by high society to paint their portraits and he painted celebrated actors such as Ralph Richardson, Michael Wilding, Ann Todd and Margaret Leighton, some while he was employed by Korda to paint portraits for film sets.

(1) Russell James, Painting in the dark. The Do-Not Press, London, 2007.

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