G.M. Cantacuzino: The Architecture of Dignity

05/07/2016 @ Romanian Cultural Institute, 1 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PH

George Matei Cantacuzino, the multi-faceted Romanian architect, painter and author, is celebrated at the Romanian Cultural Institute through a kaleidoscopic event that aims at remembering one of the greatest cultural figures of antebellum Romania. The evening will be opened by the launch of Ion Mihai Cantacuzino’s 'A Prince Among Communists. From the Belle Époque to the People's Republic (Romania 1899 - 1960)', a gripping life story of injustice, resilience and dignity introduced by Şerban Cantacuzino, the son of the legendary architect.

The evening concludes with the screening of 'Letters from George', a poignant documentary produced by G.M. Cantacuzino’s great grandson, George Rowell.


George Matei Cantacuzino (1899-1960) was an artist, architect, writer, thinker, and university professor of architecture and drawing, born into a family tree which goes back a thousand years. He was born in Vienna to aristocratic parents, and was educated in Switzerland, Bucharest, and Paris. Back in Bucharest, he was to become the unchallenged integrative figure of the moderate Modernism in Romania; he remains to this day the most prolific architectural theorist of that country. He was also professor of architectural history and theory in Bucharest, painter and curator, the first Romanian correspondent of 'L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui', chief-architect of the Romanian Railways, inspector of historical monuments, and much more. With his liberal political attitude being disapproved of by both fascists and communists, he experienced imprisonment, social exclusion and an untimely death, with no opportunity to see his wife and two children again, after they established themselves in England in 1939/40.

'Letters from George' speaks about the twenty-year long struggle of the father and husband George Matei Cantacuzino to be reunited with his family during the changing regimes in Romania, between 1938 and 1960. The memories of those times are recalled through his letters to his family and friends, some of which have already been published.

After surviving six years in the worst prison of communist Romania and being gravely injured in the ‘Danube - Black Sea Canal’, a forced-labour camp, George Matei Cantacuzino’s life ended in a Monk’s cell of the Iaşi Cathedral. Ion Mihai Cantacuzino’s 'A Prince Among Communists. From the Belle Époque to the People's Republic (Romania 1899 - 1960)' tells this man’s staggering life story and the tale of his country - Romania, from the Belle Époque to the People's Republic.

The son of G.M. Cantacuzino, Şerban Cantacuzino, CBE, D Univ. (York) FSA MA FRIBA, is a prominent London-based architect and writer, a board member of the Enescu Society in London, and founder member of Pro Patrimonio.

George Rowell is the great-grandson of George-Matei Cantacuzino, the subject of the “Letters from George” documentary. The project was sparked by his decision to collaborate with filmmaker Milo Sumner on an exploration into his family's past. Currently working in theatre production, George studied history at Leeds University and has been a lover of film for as long as he can remember.


When: Tuesday 5 July, 7pm
Where: Romanian Cultural Institute, 1 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PH

Free entry but please reserve your seats on Eventbrite.