De László’s rise from an obscure background in Budapest to a position as the most successful portrait painter in Europe is one of the fairy-tale stories of art history. By the time he was thirty, he had painted half the royalty of Europe and large swathes of the aristocracy. He went on to marry a British woman, of the Guinness family, and become a naturalised British citizen. He painted the present Queen as a little girl. By the time of his death just before the Second World War, he had also bagged several Presidents and notables in both Americas.
In the closing moments, Mears delivered a coup de théâ which left his audience visibly shaken.