A Ramón Casas and a Hans Thoma Acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art

1. Ramon Casas (1866-1932)
Tired, c. 1895-1900
Oil on panel - 63,8 x 54 cm
Dallas, Museum of Art
Photo : Dallas Museum of Art

7/11/13 - Acquisitions - Dallas, Museum of Art - This American museum recently acquired a painting by a major Catalan artist from the early 20th century, Ramón Casas (ill.1), purchased at the Mathieu Néouze Gallery in Paris.
The work is particularly striking due to its composition which is in fact extremely simple : a young woman is resting, seated at a table, on which she is leaning head down, her hands crossed and her arms stretched out. The viewer cannot see her face, only her hair which stands out like a black spot in sharp contrast to her white dress. The furniture is quite simple as well : a green chair and table, a color which seems to infuse the light of the entire scene, reflected in the white of the dress and the pink of the door (unless this is an armoire ?) in the background. The painting dates from the period between 1895-1900 and is part of a series in which the same model is represented in an interior.
Casas knew Paris well, having lived there starting in 1882 and where he was influenced notably by Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. In this type of work, however, he shows a unique originality, clearly distancing him from his French sources. He was also much admired by the young Pablo Picasso.

2. Hans Thoma (1839-1924)
Olive Grove at Lake Garda, 1897
Oil on panel - 78 x 68.7 cm
Dallas, Museum of Art
Photo : Dallas Museum of Art

Paintings by Ramón Casas are rarely found outside Spain. With this acquisition, the Dallas Museum of Art is attempting to diversify its holdings from this particular period, today made up essentially of French works. Earlier this year, still pursuing the same goal, the museum acquired a panel by the German artist, Hans Thoma (ill. 2), contemporary to the Casas painting since it dates from 1897. The purchase was made at the Jack Kilgore Gallery, with the help of the Mrs. James B. O’Hara Fund and the Foundation for the Arts. Thoma trained in Karlsruhe then Düsseldorf and was strongly influenced by Courbet whom he met in Paris, later by Böcklin to whom he owes an evolution from a certain Naturalism, which is how he described himself, to an art more marked by Symbolism. He resisted Modernity resulting in a lack of interest for his work on the part of critics who preferred the Expressionists and the Abstracts. Last summer, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt held a retrospective on the work of Hans Thoma [1].
The landscape acquired by Dallas depicts two young shepherds watching their sheep in an olive grove near Lake Garda, a region which Thoma visited during one of his many trips to Italy. We find the inspiration here is similar to that of Maurice Denis in his representations of the sacred forest, though the style of the two artists is quite different.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 7 novembre 2013


[1] This exhibition provided the opportunity for some to recall that he was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite artists. We find it as unfair to reproach a person who died in 1924, thus in no way an accomplice to the Nazis, as to criticize Wagner for the same reason...

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