Carl Schuch numbers among the most important painters of the late nineteenth century. When it came to his painting, however, Schuch was such a perfectionist that he chose not to present his works publicly, so that during his lifetime he was primarily only known in artists milieus, explains Agnes Husslein-Arco, director of the Belvedere
. In a letter to Karl Hagemeister, the self-critical Schuch wrote: Almost all of my scribbling from last year is destroyed now
. Nevertheless his still lifes and landscape paintings are to be placed on an equal footing with the works by Édouard Manet or Paul Cézanne, says Husslein-Arco. The exhibition Carl Schuch. A European Painter in the Lower Belvedere holds the promise of an encounter with one of the most gifted colourists of the nineteenth century.
Carl Schuch studied the Old Masters and was striving for perfection
A cultured and wealthy cosmopolite whose restless life led him to numerous European centres of art, Carl Schuch meticulously studied Old Masters and contemporaries alike, tirelessly seeking to grow as an artist. His self-imposed didactic programme took him from still life via architecture to landscape painting. Displaying more than 100 works by Carl Schuch and his famous models and contemporaries, such as Paul Cézanne, Charles-François Daubigny, and Gustave Courbet, the exhibition illustrates the artists search for an individual pictorial language.
Carl Schuch. A European Painter comprises such early works as the artists very first still life, Apples and Pears, as well as series of paintings like Wild Duck or Apples on White, whose motifs Schuch modified in ever new variations in order bring the colours, forms, and brushwork to perfection. The exhibition demonstrates that in his still lifes the artist achieved the same mastery that characterizes the works of Édouard Manet and Paul Cézanne. Several studies from his Impressionist period, such as Forest Clearing near Purkersdorf, visualize the process from the first sketch to the final painting.
Perfection and beauty in each and every picture
Carl Schuch: If something has to be contemplated at all, its what a work will look like when I render nature entirely honestly, the way I see it, what it will look like when I perceive honestly. The painter ceaselessly experimented with new colour combinations his colour palettes in order to depict the beauty of nature ever more impressively. Since he was convinced that it was impossible to capture or render nature in its entire scope, each and every picture had to be given its own perfection and beauty. In this sense, Schuch was far more modern than his Central European contemporaries, Stephan Koja, the exhibitions curator, points out and adds: He understood the picture plane as a two-dimensional surface and sought to accomplish a rhythm, a movement and vividness exclusively gained through colour, through ever-more-splendid colour schemes. In line with the modern colour theory of his time, Schuch believed that one was much more colourful when placing the colours next to each other instead of mixing them too excessively, so that they can merge on the retina.
Letters and notebooks offering profound insights
The exhibition Carl Schuch. A European Painter presents masterpieces by the artist, such as the landscape painting In the Valley of the Doubs or Forest Interior near the Saut du Doubs, which date from the acme of his career in the 1880s. His completely transcribed Venetian and Parisian notebooks, which besides his letters offer profound insights into his thinking as a painter and man, will be on view for the first time.
More than 100 works elucidate Schuchs approach and philosophy as a painter; they shed light on his models and reveal how he taught himself by studying masterpieces from all over Europe. His works are juxtaposed with examples by such artists as Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Charles-François Daubigny, Hans Thoma, Wilhelm Leibl, and Wilhelm Trübner.