This website was created as a tribute by Maria del Carmen R., close friend of the late artist.
Below are the notes left by the visitors of this website over the years.
If this site inspired something in you, if you are somehow linked to the artist, or if you simply have a question, you can use the form below or send us an email at email@example.com.
Fascinating to have come across these recollections of 'Hof', a dear friend to me in the early 1970s when I was very young, working at the British Museum, and very glad of the older man's wise counsel on various topics ranging from art, philosophy and the challenges of living alone in London. He introduced me to Rosena Capella in Muswell Hill, who then let me a room in her house in Frederick Street for an absurdly low rent, even by the standards of those days. She would bring me back cakes from her trips to the continent. This room was directly below Hof's room which served as his studio.
How I smiled when I read the other contributors' accounts of being served tea in jam-jars! I remember this particular eccentricity so well. In fact the studio itself was unique in my experience: you entered the room, the floor completely covered in a kind of archaeological stratum of ancient newspapers and periodicals, the position of the sofa faintly discernible as a sort of hump under this layer; you sat on it and had to prevent yourself sliding off it in the cascade of papers. The house at Frederick Street had a resident housekeeper, a middle-aged Spanish lady called Maggie - who was also very kind and I suspect very lonely. She used to make us tea, and her walls were decorated with posters of Hollywood actors. One evening while we sat over tea, a pretty little kitten bounced into the room. Maggie told me that mice were coming from Hof's room, and that Mrs Capella was too kind and tactful to tell him to clear up the mess in the studio - hence the kitten. Whether it was a good mouser I've no idea. I used to take advantage of the life-drawing classes at the Central School of Art in those days, and would sometimes do the same at the nearby Stanhope Institute in Queen Square.
This was one of Hof's main haunts, and where I got to know him. We 'clicked' straight away. He was a very dear friend in what was at times a difficult period in my life. I remember how he approved of the young woman who eventually became my wife. I shan't forget him.
Nigel Wright - Chertsey - 4 May 2015
Imre Hofbauer illustrated my children's novel, Escape to Last Man Peak (Longman Caribbean, Blue Mt series, 1975). He understood black Jamaicans in an uncanny way; this book is still in print, still beloved by schoolchildren in the Caribbean, and still telling its story of loss and triumphant friendship. Hofbauer took the trouble to find WI models in London so as to give the reader a direct connection with my fictional Jamaican world. He walked into that world not as a stranger but as a dear friend, kinsman, and interpreter.
Jean D'Costa - Weston, Florida, USA - 12 November 2011
I have just discovered this wonderful webpage depicting the works of my old friend Hof. Thank you very much for creating a brilliant tribute to a great artist and person. I will contact you about my collection of Imre Hofbauer's paintings, in particular one of his best, about the oppression in the Apartheid period of South Africa.
Neil Craigie - Germany - 12 July 2009
I first met Hof in the late 60s when he visited my parents Roy & Eleanor Houseman. They knew him via his cousin Alex Pollak who was married to a distant cousin of my mother's, Betty. He arrived exactly on time having sat in a bus shelter near their home in North London waiting until the appointed hour. He always carried a camera just in case a suitable subject presented itself. Through him we also met his dear friend Rosena Capella.
He was somewhat absent minded on occassion & I recall a story about a brown paper bag of money that he left on a bus (possibly a payment for a commission) & was lucky enough to get back via the lost propery office at London Transport. Another thing that I recall is postcards received by my parents from Hof's skiing holidays. He skiied every year until he was quite elderly. The cards had little sketches on them of scenes from the slopes. When St Georges Hospital was at Hyde Park Corner Hof had a commission to paint it. I wonder if this painting went to Tooting when the hospital moved. Also Sir Alec Guiness commissioned a painting from him. My parents bought several of Hof's paintings and pen & ink drawings during his life and when I married he gave us a pen & ink of a little dog.
After his death when his studio contents were auctioned Alex, his cousin, asked me to buy an oil painting for him and Lucille James, his great friend and companion, who also attended the auction, also asked me to bid on her behalf. It was at this auction that I bought "The Night Fishermen" for Alex, which I had shipped to Santiago. I purchased a large number of paintings & sketches some signed & dated others unfinished but all very interesting often with great depth of feeling for the subject. I have quite a number of the original paintings from "The Other London" as well as some animal paintings, portraits, landscapes & book illustrations.
We have not heard anything from the family in Chile since presumably Alex & Betty died. Peter, Lesley & Carol have all visited my mother who still lives at her home in Marlow & would be very pleased to hear from any of them. Melanie, you are presumably one of Peter's children. He stayed with us in North London for 3 months in 1966 & certainly saw Hof at that time.
Maybe through this mutual interest in Hof we'll rekindle a distant family link.
Mary Best - Marlow, Bucks - 14 May 2009
My grandfather was Alejandro Pollak, he was Imre's cousin. I never met Imre, I was too young when he died, but I've heard stories about him all my life. I was just wandering about on the internet when I found this page. I was very glad to find it.
My grandfather was very close to his cousin, in fact I noticed that the wall paper behind these posts is a letter that Hof wrote to my grandparents, Sanyi and Betty, (Sanyi for Sandor, my grandfather's name in Hungarian). I was looking at the paintings and I recognized some of them, which hung in my grandfather's house. If you would like, I can send pictures of other great paintings that my family has.
Melanie Harrington Pollak - Santiago, Chile - 24 February 2009
My grandfather, William McPhail knew Hofbauer for forty years. Before my grandfather died he wrote to me about him. Said his father was a Sea Captain in the Hungarian navy and his mother seemed well educated. Hofbauaer had a private education at a Jewish seminary or convent. He received a sound education and was proficient in eight modern languages including Hungarian, Serb/Croat, German, French, Italian and English. Unusually he was later a scholar and spoke Latin easily and fluently. He was a scholar in Ancient and Modern Literature and read avidly. He always had a book in his hands. He was a bit of a ladies man but never married. It was difficult for him to survive financially and when times were tough he produced books.
When Hofbauer was still alive the Hungarian Government declared him their greatest living artist. They wanted him to exhibit in Budapest, however he was afraid of being incarcerated so did not go. I am fortunate to have a couple of original paintings of his. One is a large one of children in a boat, another of Fisherman, Galloping Horses, St Pancras Station (I think) and a Boat Scene. Plus I have the books: Bababukra, The Other London and My Little Englishman. He was a very talented individual and a dear friend of my grandfather.
Lorna Notaras - London - 26 January 2009
I met Hof when I came to London in the early sixties I met him in a life painting group and was immediately fascinated by his colourful personality he took me to dinner where there was violin music and told me of his early life in Budapest . I was amazed that he lived in picturesque squalor in a room filled with pictures and easels and books. he insisted in drinking hot tea from jam jars in preference to mugs he kindly refused my present of a mug the jam jars reminded him of his student days.I sometimes encountered him painting on Hampstead heath or swimming in the ponds.He even tried to swim in the Thames in central London but was shouted out by boatmen. He did two oil sketches of me but i guess they are lost. i have seldom encountered anyone as eccentric or dedicated to his art.
Patricia Buckley - Twickenham, UK - 29 May 2008
Dear Maria you will remember me as a friend of Hof. (known as Pat). I was very pleased to find his paintings and drawings on the web-site. Hof was such a colourful character there is no one I have met quite like him. Do you remember how he insisted on drinking tea from jam jars he said it kept hot longer but it reminded him of his student days. The last time I spoke to him on the phone when he was ill he did not seem to know me so I felt helpless.
Pat Buckley - 30 April 2008
I was one of the many models who used to sit for Hof, I first met him in 1970 at the art school where I was a model and later sat for him privately at his flat. He was a delightful, sweet, funny and kind man and always a joy to sit for.
I was the subject of the work entitled Bridget which appeared in his exhibition held in 1972 and also Nude with a Glass. If anyone has a copy of either of these please let me know.
Bridget Fifield - Bristol - 18 January 2008
I recently discovered your excellent website devoted to Imre Hofbauer. It has excited me to learn so much about the artist as I have a small collection of his works and up until now knew only a little about Hofbauer. I bought the collection at auction some years ago (about 15 years I think) and still have most of the works (although I have parted with 3 or 4) which now consists of about 15 paintings, watercolours and ink drawings, about 15 prints some with watercolour additions, and a number of book dust covers, printers proofs, photographic reproductions and newspaper cuttings. I really love some of the works, the portraits and animal studies are particularly good and it has been interesting to compare them with the numerous works on your website.
Peter Jones - Suffolk, England - 11 January 2008
In the late sixties, my husband, who was a specialist hand printer in Holborn, was contacted by a quiet man with a European accent - would he help him in printing off copies of his illustrative drawings? My husband was able to oblige and his friendship with Imre Hofbauer began.
Imre liked to run in rather worn shorts around Holborn for exercise and would often drop casually into my husband's work place. The printing job was done and others later, no money changing hands. This must have meant a lot to Hof who one day asked my husband and I to dinner. First we went to his studio where amid the muddle of paintings, most unfinished, stood a large sketch on sheets of brown paper of John the Baptist. It was very beautiful, the face showing sadness and pain which stays with me now. He told us Robert Maxwell had asked him to paint his portrait — I don't know if this took place.
We went to a restaurant frequented by Hungarians and Imre held out my chair for me to be seated - I was charmed by his courtesy. We had an excellent meal and I tasted my first Zabaglione dessert and drank Hungarian Bull's Blood wine — very potent! The conversation flowed and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We were also invited to one of his exhibitions.
We lost touch with Imre when my husband's firm closed down and he moved on to another company and despite attempts to find him, we failed. He was a talented and gentle man and we felt saddened when we lost contact but we never forgot him.
I have a signed copy of his book 'London - Flower of Cities' and two watercolour drawings which were produced to illustrate stories in a woman's magazine as well as some of the offprints my husband did for him.
Bobbie Townsend - Holborn - 23 August 2007
We knew Hof when he was living in Kings Cross area of London. He painted an original of Hampstead Heath for our wedding. On his death, we went to the sale at "Bonhams" and bought folders of his paintings, both finished and unfinished, and we have walls of his paintings, plus many more stored, as we have no more room left. What variety of subjects, and of scenes, what a talent.
Andrew Morgan - England - 21 July 2007
Since obtaining a copy of "The Other London" in the 1980s I have admired his great talent and soul. Discoving this site is the best thing that has happened to me this summer!
John Andrew Kadar - Ithaca, NY, USA - 15 July 2007
I own an original drawing by Imre which was given to me by an old Friend who was given the drawing by Imre himself. It is of a golfer believed to be Ben Hogan, and was possibly in preparation for a commission, at least that is what my friend thought. My friend who is now deceased was in the book business, which is how he came to meet Imre… it also goes without saying that we both are heavily into golf! If you could cast any further light into the drawings history i would be very interested and grateful.
Barrie Walters - England - 28 June 2007
While Imre was living in London he painted a portrait of my wife during many sittings at his studios in Calthrope and Frederick Streets. Imre is remembered as a tireless worker, as an artist whose sensitivity to his subjects and their circumstances was a rare gift. His compassion for people reflected a warm heart.
Bill and Caroline Markham - June 2007
This is a lovely tribute to a wonderful, caring, sensitive man, who was a great friend of mine and who never had a bad word to say about anyone. He had a great artistic talent and such a wonderful personality. He is still greatly missed. Congratulations, Maria, on a job well done.
Karen Jahovic - Hampshire, UK - 15 February 2007