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Louis Ritman


Gallery Database:


Louis Ritman (1889-1963). "Harvest Time, Giverny,"

oil on canvas, 22 x 26, Signed & with Estate Stamp.

Arts and craft frame.


Curator's Comment:

Ritman's voyage to America commenced when his parents emigrated from Russia at the turn of the century. They left the village life of Kamenets-Podolski outside Odessa for the immigrant experience of big-city Chicago. But it is important to realize that as a painter Ritman's journey to America was lifelong, taking him from the France of Monet's impressionism to the farmlands of southeastern Michigan and Minnesota, where he was to die in Winona at 64. After studying in Chicago, Ritman moved to Philadelphia, the starting point for so many American artists, and then continued his studies with William Merritt Chase. Like his compatriots, Ritman  set sail for Paris in 1909 in order to enroll at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he studied with Jean Paul Laurens. He also studied at another favorite studio of American expatriots, the Academie Colarosi, but the turning point in his career was meeting Impressionist Frederick Frieseke in Paris. Frieseke invited him to Giverny, where he first went in 1911, and from that time his style changed rapidly from Academic to Impressionist.

In Monet's colony, Ritman worked with both Frieseke and American impressionists Richard Miller and Lawton Parker, and he returned to Giverny each year until 1929. He took his female subjects from Frieseke and posed them in the light-filled windows and doorways favored by Miller. Parker was a strength in portraiture, and the result for Ritman was a finely detailed impressionistic subject seen in a chromatic background with splashes of color depicting Giverny's radiant gardens. The work of this period is often intimate, or genteel, as symbolized by the fact that Ritman's outdoor plein-air work was often done in his walled garden, rather than among the willows and thatched farms strewn along the River Epte. As he progressed he was more comfortable with color alone, and this can be seen in one of the very best of his best Giverny farm scenes, Harvest Time, which shows us the paysage with its amber hay pile. Our painting is a unique fusion that captures the agrarian beauty and harmony of the locale; the farm and its crop are the natural result of human labor.


In 1930, Ritman accepted a teaching position at the Art Institute of Chicago and  resided in the city for the remaining thirty years of his career. In this period his wife was a frequent subject, often posed as a flapper with a cloche hat in an environment created with a single color in all its tonal variations. Ritman exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,  and at the National Academy of Design, along with shows and exhibits in Chicago's art and museum world. Ritman's last  summers were spent among the farms and lakes of the Midwest, and he began to evolve a more unique and Fauvist perspective to deal with the American landscape. Note that Ritman's top price has increased by over $100,000 since we first posted this page..

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