Eva Besnyö

Eva Besnyö in Bergen at Charley Toorop’s place (1933) photographed by John Fernhout.

Eva Besnyö (1910–2003) was born in Budapest, Hungary and studied at the studio of photographer József Pécsi. At the age of 20 she moved to Berlin  as a flourishing photographer, attracted by the avant-garde artistic climate of the German capital. It was in Berlin where she became friends with Robert Capa with whom they lived on the same street in Budapest as children. She inspired him to take up photography and introduced him to the Dephot press photography agency.

In Berlin Besnyö also got to know her future husband John Fernhout. Through him, she was admitted to the circles around his mother, the Dutch painter Charley Toorop. Later she moved to Amsterdam with her husband, where she survived WWII in hiding. In the thirties she worked mainly on architectural photography commissions, then she shifted her field to postwar reconstruction in the Netherlands and a series of portraits of artists, writers and actors. In the 1970s, she was active in the Dutch feminist movement Dolle Mina, fighting for equal rights and photographing street protests.