History of the School


The Secondary School of Visual Arts is the amalgamation of two schools, the Buda Drawing School (Schola Graphidis Budensis), which began its operation in 1778, and its ten-year younger counterpart in Pest.

The Buda Drawing School was established by order of Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary, in 1777, in accordance with the Ratio Educationis (her educational decree), its chief mission the education of apprentices and budding teachers in the field of drawing.

Local demands also expedited the establishment of the drawing school because craftsmen would only be able to compete with manufacturers if they could develop their professional abilities, particularly their knowledge of style. At the same time, as a result of the emerging bourgeoisie, the demand for the creations of classicist ornamental art was growing immensely. Knowledge provided by the old elementary and apprentice schools proved to be insufficient and the introduction of technical drawing education became more and more urgent. Even before the issuance of the Ratio, there had been experiments to this end. Based on the charter of the Guild of Master Builders of Pest, regulations for education and the teaching of drawing had already been mapped out in 1695, and in 1726, there were consultations on the necessity of drawing instruction. After lengthy trials, the charter for the Schola Graphidis Budensis was finally issued by the Court Chancellery on April 2, 1778. In the same year, the organization of the Drawing School in Győr was begun, which was, however, brought to fruition only eight years later in 1786.

During this time, the majority of the school’s students were bricklayers, carpenters, stone masons, joiners, glaziers, painters or coppersmiths, but there were also goldsmiths, tanners, curriers and even confectioners among them. Drawings were of plaster moulds or patterns. These models from countries of the Austrian Empire, France or other European territories became a part of the school’s library and are priceless as we are experiencing a renaissance of arts and crafts and are the authentic sources of renovations begun a few years ago.

Compared to the population of Buda and Pest, the number of students was indeed great.
In 1778, 25 students began their studies in Buda while this number had already risen to 152 in 1795, and by 1820, the number of craftsmen alone was more than 200. Exact numbers of enrolment for the school in Pest are unknown, but it is certain that enrolment increased greatly after 1848 and in 1867 was more than 1700.

From their inception, the two drawing schools considered artistic education one of their missions. Until 1846, when the Marastoni Academy of Painting was founded, the schools were pioneers in the first steps of artistic education and the teaching of technical procedures.


Beginning in 1850, apprentices received not only drawing lessons, but also two hours of general academic subjects weekly. After the unification of the Buda Schola Graphidis Budensis and the Pest schools in 1886 under the name Metropolitan Municipal Technical Drawing School. János Vidéky, Director of the school from 1879 till his death in 1900, reorganized the drawing school and was highly respected on a national level in the area of applied education. Together with Károly Keleti and József Szterényi, he was one of the most enthusiastic pioneers of the field. His work entitled “Systematic Drawing” was well known abroad as well. Among the foreign students under his directorship was Charles L’Eplattenier, who later worked with Le Corbusier.


By the end of the 1880s, the school had outgrown its building on Czukor Street and several departments were located in the Vigadó Building. The constantly growing school was in need of a new building. In 1893, the school was relocated in the Oroszlán Street (today’s Török Pál Street) in a building designed by József Kauser and meeting the unique requirements of such a school.


From 1904, academic subjects were supplemented by workshop training so that the rules of artistic formation presented by the natural peculiarities of the materials could be encountered in the course of practical work. Art history was also taught systematically using glass slides on an opaque projector by Károly Lyka. Freehand drawing was added to the curriculum. The following names bear witness to the high standards of the education: Károly Markó, János Nagy Balogh and Gyula Derkovits, all of them students of our school.


In 1911, the school consisted of the following departments:
evening classes in applied arts (courses in freehand drawing, decorative painting, print making, women’s tailoring and bookbinding);
winter master courses (for master craftsmen: bricklayers, carpenters, stonemasons and painters);
public drawing and modelling room;
periodic drawing courses for elementary school teachers and teachers of vocational schools for apprentices.


In 1913, the photography department was in the planning phase and instruction began in 1914 under the direction of József Pécsi.


In 1946, the school was transformed into a fine arts lyceum. Education is centred not only on the practical training of applied artists, but on the education of a new generation of craftsmen seeking an artistic background as well. Regular classes in general subjects were also added to the syllabus, such as Hungarian literature, mathematics, geography, etc., as well as accountancy and legal protection for craftsmen. At that time, departments for potters, furniture makers, women’s fashion designers, photographers, graphic artists, bookbinders, leather artists and textile artists are also in operation. Upon completion of their studies, the students received a secondary school lyceum diploma and a vocational certificate which enabled them to take a further examination to become an art assistant.


In 1949, the reform of colleges for the arts required our school, too, to adopt the new forms of artistic education. These reforms strived to pave the way for students’ preparation and easy transition to art colleges and to provide intermediate vocational education for the art industry. Thus the State Art Gramar School was founded in 1950 and the later Secondary Scool of Visual Arts in 1951.


In 1967, there was yet another reform when the school became the Vocational Secondary School for Visual Arts. The essence of this reform was that all students should simultaneously receive a general certificate of education, as well as an intensive basic education in drawing, which is a pre-requisite for application to an art college; and professional training in a trade.


In 1973, continuing under the name of Secondary School of Visual Arts, the school became the training school for the Hungarian University of Fine Arts.


Today, the school continues to operate in the spirit of its long history. Our goal is to meet the requirements of a secondary school, supplemented by subjects of general theoretical and practical visual training, with knowledge of art history, geometry, ethnography, typography,). Currently, 12 professional departments are in operation: photography, graphic design, leather design, furniture design, painting, sculpture, motion pictures and animation, ceramics, bookbinding and book design, jewellery and silversmithing, textile design and glass design.

The school is known for its atmosphere of a “home away from home”, which compels the frequent return of former students, some of which become teachers here in order to convey to others the traditions they have encountered at the school. Since the founding of the school in 1778 right up to the present, it has always been this way.