Zsuzsi Roboz was elected to the Pastel Society in 1968.
Zsuzsi was Hungarian, born in Budapest into a family involved with art and the theatre. A comfortable life came to an abrupt end when the nazis invaded Hungary in WW2 and the family had to go into hiding. They struggled to survive. Sadly Zsuzsi’s father was discovered by the nazis and did not survive.
When war ended the Russians were in occupation, but Zsuzsi and her Mother managed to get false papers and escape to France.
In 1947, still in her teens, no money and on her own, Zsuzsi came to England to seek a job in shorthand and typing, not really what she wanted to do with her life. She approached Sir Alexander Korda, a close friend of her father who remembered the family and offered her a job. She gets to meet many stars of stage and screen and starts to make drawings, studying at Regents Street Poly in the evenings. Zsuzsi left her job with the Korda brothers when she was accepted as a student at the RA schools, the tuition was free in those days. About this time Zsuzsi met Annigoni at one of his London PV’s, and he accepted her as a drawing pupil in Florence, She learned much about technique from Annigoni, but as she said herself, her vision was her own.
On her return to London, Sir Alexander Korda commissioned Zsuzsi to make a series of portrait drawings of his many contract artists, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure, the list was endless and Zsuzsi never looked back. Commissions for society portraits poured in, and through her theatrical connections she was allowed to make drawings back stage at the Windmill Theatre. The resulting lithographs are in the collection of the Tate Gallery.
Zsuzsi’s first exhibition was at the Walker Gallery in London, from then on she exhibited worldwide, in particular Paris, Budapest and New York, and has work in the Pablo Casals Museum in Jamaica.
Married to Alfred (Teddy) Smith, Zsuzsi became involved with his fund raising for a new Festival Theatre in Chichester, later he became chairman of the Productions committee, and Laurence Olivier was the first director.
Zsuzsi meets Antoinette Sibley, prima ballerina of the Royal Ballet Company and their friendship leads to many years of drawing during rehearsals. Zsuzsi’s portrait of Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet, is in the National Portrait Gallery.
Moira remembers the special time she spent at Zsuzsi's Studio. 'After I became President of the Pastel Society, I had the honour of going to her fabulous studio for portrait sittings, even the lunch was a joy, champagne and smoked salmon ! The resulting portrait was shown in the Pastel Society Exhibition in 2005'.
MOIRA HUNTLY Past President
Portrait of Moira Huntly
By Zsuzsi Roboz
The Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Award
Zsuzsi, who passed away in July 2012 aged 82, generously bequeathed an Award of £5000. This will be the fourth year that this Award will be won. The Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Award is designated in Trust to recognise Zsuzsi's enormous contribution to draughtsmanship.
The prize of £5000 will be awarded to a young artist, under the age of 35 years, for traditional skills, used in an original way. All subject matter wiil be considered. Pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conté, sanguine or any dry media are all acceptable. All work must be submitted through open entry to the exhibition.