Real face of János Bolyai


The first international publication to introduce János Bolyai’s REAL FACE, after 50 years of the wrong image being circulated around the world!


Real face of János Bolyai

in The History of Mathematics:
A Source-Based Approach, Volume 2

June Barrow-Green, Jeremy Gray, and Robin Wilson
American Mathematical Society, USA, 2022.



Real face of János Bolyai appeared in the book:
Shoshichi Kobayashi
Mathematicians Who Lost Their Faces (in Japanese), 2013.

Bolyai's chapter in the Selected Articles from the book
(in English)

by Prof. Hisashi Kobayashi


Selected Articles from the book
(in English)

by Prof. Hisashi Kobayashi





After several decades of silence attention needs to be drawn to the fact that the face of János Bolyai, that has gone into the public consciousness of present and future generations, is not really his face. This shocking statement does not only refer to the portrait of the scientist but to the 'well-known' facts about his professional activity.
This crime is even more significant if we think about the scale of his fame and appreciation worldwide as one of the most prominent Hungarian scientists. According to my depressing analysis of web sites showing pictures of János Bolyai around the world, all of them present the wrong portrait of him (with one exception only). The majority of these web sites is owned by educational institutions that means that incorrect ideas will be passed on to future generations!
The establishment of this web site is the first step towards a János Bolyai's real face program, the aim of which is to swap the picture of the 'fake Bolyai' with the real one! I would like to publish the most up-to-date research (related to Bolyai's life, portrait and works) on my web site and also in printed form. To help this, it would be necessary for all involved or just interested to give any support possible.

Budapest, 2004. T.D.T.

"He was the first Hungarian mathematician who created something world famous (according to Lórand Eötvös). Unfortunately there is no picture remaining that shows this scientist-giant, therefore the new generations cannot become familiar with his features. The only source describing his appearance is his passport (made when he was 48): he was average-built, blue-eyed and had a long face." (Elemér Kiss)

Click on the images or on the underline texts! After a few second appears an original computer animation.

Here is the picture of the only authentic relief of János Bolyai on the front of the Culture Palace in Marosvásárhely (Roumania):

The REAL FACE of János Bolyai (1802-1860)

1802. Kolozsvár – 1860. Marosvásárhely

"From descriptions of his age we may learn what he looked like. We know that he wore a dark brown beard, his hair was the same colour, his eyes were dark blue. According to József Koncz (history-writer of College of Marosvásárhely) János Bolyai looked very much like general György Klapka. Another important fact: his son, Dénes Bolyai stated that there is a huge resemblance between him and his father. Indeed, all the photos of György Klapka as well as the ones of Dénes Bolyai show a bearded man. Also obvious are the similar features. This seems to support the correctness of the above statements. Dénes Bolyai(1837-1913) - the sun of János Bolyai György Klapka (1820-1892)But there is more: I went on to photograph the front of the Culture Palace in Marosvásárhely where there are 6 reliefs of famous scientists of the last century. The subtitles show the names of the men (from left): Elek Dósa, Sámuel Teleki, Farkas Bolyai, János Bolyai, Ferenc Mentovich and István Pentelei. We have authentic photos of all of them except János Bolyai. Comparing them one by one with the reliefs I found that they were perfectly identical.

The front of Culture Palace in Marosvásárhely where there are 6 reliefs of famous scientists of the 19th centuryAnother fascinating finding was that looking at the portraits of György Klapka and Dénes Bolyai and the relief of János Bolyai it seems as if they were showing the same person. The Culture Palace was built between 1911 and 1913. At that time there were people living in the town who knew or saw János Bolyai, including his son, Dénes Bolyai. It would have been unimaginable for the artist not to consult the son of his model for lack of an authentic portrait." (Tibor Weszely)

Virtual portraits of János Bolyai (by computer animation)

Computer animation by Szilárd Máté and Róbert Oláh Gál

"An alleged portrait of János Bolyai appeared on Rumanian and Hungarian stamps in 1960, made based the painting of Mór Adler. The picture had also been published elsewhere but it has been discovered later that it was not original, it was not the portrait of János Bolyai." (Tibor Weszely)

An unusual conjecture: On the Mór Adler's painting appeared the young Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)!  (Computer animation by Szilárd Máté and Róbert Oláh Gál)

NOT the portrait of János Bolyai that has been spread around the world. (Mór Adler's painting)

"Who is really portrayed by Mór Adler on the picture painted in 1864? János Bolyai's name does not appear on the original painting. A copy of the painting had been drawn by Károly Linzdorf and he decided to write the name on it. The painting and the drawing are the property of the János Bolyai Mathematical Association.
How did the picture get there? Nobody knows exactly. Some of the older generation seem to remember that it had been given to the Association by some kind of military organization, together with the drawing."
(personal information from Dr.András Prékopa)

The strange spiritual affinity between Elemér Kiss and János Bolyai is expressed in the language of the mathematics, by the following congruences. It is extraordinary that -considering their ages- they both belong to the same congruence class. The fact that this spiritual affinity has been written using the language of number theory, may not be a coincidence either.
(T.Dénes T.)

Zsigmond Attila marosvásárhelyi festõmûvész tus rajza Bolyai Jánosról

Reconstructed portrait drawing with Indian ink, made by Attila Zsigmond (painter lived in Marosvásárhely in 1927-1999), using Bolyai contemporary texts and other sources. The picture can be found in the Bolyai Museum, Marosvásárhely (Románia).

Kolozsvári Puskás Sándor plasztikája Figurine by Kolozsvári, Puskás Sándor
János Bolyai's bust (made by Viktor Vass, 1984) Salgótarján (Hungary), János Bolyai high school

Bolyai Memorial Medal prepared for the Bolyai anniversary (in 2002) by Kinga Széchenyi

Fantasy painting by Ferenc Márkos (2012) Marosvásárhely (Románia) Calvinistic College