8 Ivan Szabo (1822-1858)

Ivan Szabo was a photographer from Transylvania, who set up his studio in St Andrews, and later moved to Edinburgh. Photography had become a viable activity in 1839 with the inventions of William Henry Fox Talbot in England and Daugerre in France. David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson produced numerous photographs of Edinburgh in the 1840s. Interestingly, Adamson came from St Andrews and had been involved with a group of photographers there. Szabo exhibited in several photographic exhibitions that took place in the 1850s. He photographed Fox Talbot, among others.

Ivan Szabo was born in Marosvásárhely (modern Târgu Mureș) in Transylvania in 1822. The city was then in Hungary but is now in Romania. Szabo served in the Hungarian revolutionary army, and came to Scotland in 1849 when the revolution against the Hapsburg Empire failed. He died at the early age of 36.

His tombstone has several inscriptions on it. Two are in Latin; and can be translated as:

“He took up arms for his country, he came as an unknown refugee, and left a respectable citizen.”

“Praise him for what he did for the art of photography in his short life.”

The third is in Hungarian, and is the first line of the Szózat, which is considered the second national anthem of Hungary. The usual translation is “To your homeland without fail/ Be faithful, O Hungarian!”

In 2012 the president of the Edinburgh Photographic Society, Edith Smith, laid flowers on Szabo’s gravestone on behalf of the members of the Fotoclub Târgu Mureș, Romania.


  1. The EdinPhoto website, http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/pp_n/pp_szabo.htm
  2. Hungarian photographers abroad, http://www.fotomuveszet.net

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