Victor Ambrus ARCA, RE, FRSA, PS, PPVPS, Hon SGFA
Ambrus was born in Budapest, Hungary. He studied at the Hungarian Acadamy of Fine Arts for three years. Ambrus to made his way to England, recognising that it would be a good place to continue his study of illustration. He arrived at Blackbush airport in Surrey in December 1956. Despite speaking no English, Victor presented himself at Farnham Art School and was immediately taken on, not to follow any particular course but to work at his drawing. Ambrus had already concentrated largely on engraving and lithography that, as he says, was an excellent training for line illustration. The Principal of Farnham was quick to recognise that Victor was ready for a higher level of study and so, after only two terms, he directed him to the Royal College of Art in London. His tutor applied to London’s Royal College of Art on his behalf, and Ambrus won a Gulbenkian scholarship to study printmaking and illustration for three years. At the Royal College Ambrus met his wife Glenys, who was then a fellow student and is now a fellow illustrator.
At the age of 20, he began his career as a book illustrator. While at college he took some samples of his work to Mabel George of the Oxford University Press. In his last year of the course, he was commissioned to illustrate a book that was reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement. His first real job on leaving college was to work for an advertising agency. As his freelance work increased after two years he went back to Farnham and started teaching at the Art School while doing illustration part-time.
He has had a long career working for the Oxford University Press. Like many illustrators, Victor started by doing line illustrations for novels. The children’s editor at OUP Mabel George gave him first Hester Burton's and then K M Peyton's novels to illustrate. Both used his talent for drawing horses and with both he built up a happy working relationship.
He has contributed to almost 300 books. Among his credits are illustrating several fairy tale compilations by Ruth Manning-Saunders,
He currently works as the artist on the archaeological television programme, Time Team. The TV director and producer were discussing how to make an archaeology series and wanted an illustrator. They went to the library and found 'The Story of Britain' by Reader’s Digest and found that he could illustrate all the subjects they were likely to encounter. Ambrus took part in a pilot episode of what became Time Team on Channel 4.
He has also designed six sets of historical stamps for the Jersey Post Office and one for the Royal Mail. He was one of seven leading British illustrators to be included in the prestigious exhibition entitled The World of English Picture Books, which toured Japan (1998).
All my work is drawn from life and I enjoy drawing a variety of subjects –
humans, dogs, horses, wildlife and historical subjects.
St. Imre Cistercian College Budapest 1945- 53
Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts 1953-1956
Farnham School of Art (2 terms)
Royal College of Art / Royal Scholar 1957/ 1957- 1960 / ARCA 1960
Fellow of the Royal Society Painter/Etchers (RE 1973)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts 1977 FRSA
Member of the Pastel Society (Vice President 2004)
Hon Member Society of Graphic Artists 2010
Kate Greenaway Gold Medal for Illustration 1965
Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration 1975
World Wildlife Fund Prize 1993
The Royal Academy of Arts, Arts Club Drawing Prize 1996
Illustrated over 300 books, mostly for Oxford University Press
Designer/illustrator of 20 stamp sets for Jersey, Royal mail, Isle of Man and
For the past nineteen years Resident artist for the TV series TIME TEAM,
after the producer discovered “The Story of Britain “ In the Public Library.
One of seven illustrators to represent Britain in Japan in 1998 in the exhibition
The World of English Picture Books.
Photograph by Sam Farr