Lou Dagneau, (left) a student of Hungarian Fine Arts Professor Lajos Matolcsy, recently donated a portrait he did of her in the early 1970s to the Western Maine Art Group (WMAG) which he founded in Norway in 1962. WMAG Past President Melanie Thornberg received the painting for addition to WMAG’s growing art collection.

NORWAY —  Some students rise like cream to the top. While some teachers recognize their students’ special gifts, not all are memorialized with a portrait. Lou Dagneau of Northport, Maine was one of those students for Hungarian Fine Arts Professor Lajos Matolcsy (1905-1982).

In the early 1970s, the professor completed a portrait of Dagneau in honor of her talent and commitment to the study of fine arts. She recently donated the large oil painting to the Western Maine Art Group in Norway, which Matolcsy founded in 1962.

“I believe that the portrait should be in his building,” Dagneau said of her generous donation. “I thought of it as going home where it belonged.”

Dagneau first saw the Hungarian artist’s work at an art show at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in the Carrabassett Valley around 1970.

“I was so enthralled. I just wanted to meet this man and shake his hand,” said Dagneau of two works that included a large-scale nude done with a pallet knife and another entitled ‘The Fate of Maine’. “Another person there said: ‘You can do more than that, you can take lessons’,” she continued.

She immediately pursued the contact information and went directly to Matolcsy’s Lisbon Street, Lewiston studio to sign up for lessons. She began her fine arts training by taking two classes a week – one at his South Casco studio and the other at the Lisbon Street studio. She studied with him for about 3 years. It was one of the most remarkable and influential experiences of her life.


“He was so much more than just an art teacher; he shared his philosophy of life, his view of the world. He shared his experiences of surviving war and leaving his homeland and family. He told of walking out of his house with the door unlocked, leaving all of his paintings and possessions, and swam a river to escape. He made such an impression on me,” said Dagneau. “To this day, he and his wife, his son and daughter take up residence in my mind and heart. They left an indelible influence on me for who they were and who they encouraged me to be,” she continued.

The portrait came about when Dagneau expressed a desire to purchase a piece of his work. She explained that it was his idea to do the portrait. His budding student sat several times for the portrait before the piece was completed, in the studio at his farm in south Paris. He named the portrait “Dedication” in honor of her diligence as a student and commitment to becoming a fine artist.

For over 50 years now, Dagneau has been applying the lessons she learned from her beloved professor. Her work is represented in a variety of media including oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints, colored pencil, pen and ink, and charcoal on canvas, paper, wood, and slate. She is also known for her ribbon embroidery, decoy painting, and more.

Dagneau works now exclusively in her studio, nestled in a wooded oasis on Maine’s inspiring mid-coast. Her subjects are drawn from her deep appreciation of nature and her love of giving to friends. Her work can be viewed at: monarchconsulting.wixsite.com/loudagneaustudio

The Western Maine Art Group operates out of the Lajos Matolcsy Arts Center at 480 Main Street in Norway and offers a variety of arts events, exhibits, and programs for artists of all types and ages. For more information, see westernmaineartgroup.org.

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