Judith (Judit) Cassab (Kaszab)CBE, AO (Part 1)
|First name||Judith (Judit)|
|Last name||Cassab (Kaszab)CBE, AO (Part 1)|
|Country of Origin||Hungary|
|Date of Birth||1920, Vienna|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1951|
|Submitted by||Attila Urmenyhazi|
JUDITH CASSAB (Kaszab Judit) CBE, AO, artist, painter-portraitist, writer (1920 – )
Judith Cassab (Mrs. Kampfler), the internationally recognized Australian painter, was born in Vienna on 15 August 1920 to Hungarian parents Imre Kaszab and Ilona, née Kont. Her parents soon separated and Judith went with her mother back to Hungary in 1929 to live with her grandmother and to a great degree was raised by her. Her Hungarian-Jewish family was from the old pre-Trianon Hungarian city formerly known as Beregszász, a town whose
nationality shifted with the political turmoils and upheavals of 20th-century central and eastern Europe (Berehove, part of Ukraine since 1991).
Judith at the tender age of 12, commenced pursuing seriously the study of art. Committed to her own conviction, she had defined her future life to revolve around painting and diarising. At high school, her extraordinary talent was discovered by her art teacher who’s wife, an accomplished pianist and painter, took the talented youngster under her patronage. After completion of her secondary studies in 1938, Judith arrived in Budapest where he met her would be husband János Kampfler, a wealthy estate manager to landed Count Schönborn. In marriage, her husband Jancsi strongly supported and encouraged her to paint and develop her talent and fulfill her vocation. By early 1940’s when Judith embarked upon a most promising art career, the brutal Nazi invasions were taking place in Europe. Open persecution of the Jewry and horrific times following the occupation of Hungary caused her break from the art world. Most of her family, including her mother, grandmother and uncle, as well as close members of her husband’s family were deported to Auschwitz where they were killed. In an effort to escape deportation and death, Judith (Mrs Judit Kampfler) assumed a false identity with the help of a ‘Good Samaritan’ and worked in a factory.
She and her husband were reunited after the war, after which she joined a group of likeminded creative artist painters colony in idyllic Szentendre where she spent the summer months between 1945-49 studying, engaging in painting under the guidance of well known Hungarian masters and tutors Aurél Bernáth and Lipót Hermann,
developing her own style and philosophy in creative art. During that period Cassab also toured the galleries of Western Europe, her painting career took off, and she had two sons. In 1949, the emigré family sought refuge from heavy-handed repression under communism and sought a future in Vienna, her city of birth where she soon established her name and success as a gifted portrait painter. Despite very promising times through her art, the young Kaszab family decided to leave Europe to escape the troubling torments of the past and migrate to Australia, a far away land offering peace and security above all other considerations. In 1951, they arrived in Australia with 21 of her paintings, which were expressionist in style and concept rooted in her well developed Hungarian experience.
In 1951 the Cassab’s (Kaszab) arrived in Australia. Judith’s adapting to life in Australia was initially a challenge in more ways then one. The family had to work hard with not much reward and Judith had to build up the number of her paintings to a required creditable number whilst she observed the prevailing gender discrimination in the art world and ‘Prize’ competitions. The gifted artist held her first exhibition at Sydney’s Macquarie Galleries in 1953. Since then Judith exhibited her art in over eighty exhibitions. The portrait painting in 1957 of Hugh Gaitskell Great Britain’s Opposition Leader, and her two other paintings acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London elevated her status as a painter of international distinction. She painted British royalty among them HRH Princess Alexandra and Marina, Duchess of Kent, and also the Queen Sirikit of Thailand.