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Hans Thoma

 

Hans Thoma’s (1839–1924) landscapes recall and depict the simple, idyllic life of his home region. His works display points of contact with the work of Italian and German old masters more than with contemporary trends. Gustave Courbet’s realistic landscapes were an important source of inspiration for him.

Born in Bernau in the Black Forest, Thoma briefly studied lithography and watch case painting in Furtwangen. From 1859 to 1866 he studied at the Karlsruhe school of art. In 1867 he settled in Düsseldorf, travelling the following year to Paris. While living and working there he met Gustave Courbet, whose work made a strong impression on him. In 1870 he moved to Munich where he met Wilhelm Leibl and Arnold Böcklin, both of whom had a significant impact on his work.

The love of detail and local colouring displayed in his works depicting the life and scenery in his home region show his affinities with the early German masters such as Albrecht Altdorfer and Lucas Cranach, as well as the 15th century Italian painters Sandro Botticelli and Luca Signorelli, whose work he studied on trips to Italy. In 1892 he began to exhibit with the Munich Secession. From this period on, Thoma received many commissions, including the costume design for Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at Bayreuth in 1896. He was appointed director of the Grossherzogliche Gemäldegalerie in Karlsruhe and professor of landscape painting at the Kunstschule there, and in 1909 was honoured through the opening of a Hans-Thoma-Kunstmuseum within the city’s Kunsthalle.