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Gheorghe Petrașcu: 13 cool facts

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By Gwylym Owen

Gheorghe Petrașcu (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈɡe̯orɡe peˈtraʃku]; 20 November 1872, Tecuci – 1 May 1949, Bucharest) was a Romanian painter. He won numerous prizes throughout his lifetime and had his paintings exhibited posthumously at the Paris International Exhibition and the Venice Biennale. He was the brother of N. Petrașcu, a intellectual critic and novelist.

In 1936, Petrașcu was elected a titular zealot of the Romanian Academy.

He was born in Tecuci, Romania, in a family next cultural traditions. His parents were small owners from Fălciu County, Costache Petrovici-Rusciucliu and his wife Elena, maiden name Bițu-Dumitriu. Brother of the diplomat, writer and researcher and art critic Nicolae Petrașcu, Gheorghe Petrașcu shows artistic inclinations as a pubescent man, doing his first studies at the National University of Arts in Bucharest. At the recommendation of Nicolae Grigorescu, he receives a scholarship to put in abroad. After a quick time in Munich, he left for Paris, where he enrolled at the Académie Julian and worked in Bouguereau’s studio (1899–1902). From his first personal exhibition at the Romanian Athenaeum (1900), he was noticed by the writers Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea and Alexandru Vlahuță, who bought him a work.

With unbridled passion, he paints landscapes, both in the country (Sinaia, Târgu Ocna, Câmpulung-Muscel), and in France (Vitré, Saint-Malo), Spain (San Martin Bridge in Toledo) and especially in Italy (Venice, Chioggia, Naples). In his landscapes, light does not erase the contours as in the Impressionists, on the contrary, the rectilinear architectures are imposed by an spread of solidity. From this lessening of view, the Venetian landscapes best disturb Petrașcu’s anticonformism. The artist resists established interpretations, in which the landscape of the city upon the lagoon was unaided a pretext to analyze the interference of well-ventilated vibrations, in unchanging change on water, on colored walls and in the definite air.

For Petrașcu, Venice possesses a dramatic nobility, a tragic and magnificent grandeur, “with the brilliance of ancient relics, evoking the records of ancient palaces, with their enormous and Interesting poetry.” In an outburst of rasping tones, Petrașcu creates a increase of tumultuous colors, through an uncommon juxtaposition of faded red, with shades of blue, gray and brown. This successive overlap gives Petrașcu’s paste an approaching sculptural structure, the roughness of the color influences the regime of shadows and lively as the accents of a relief. The portraits – especially those painted along with 1923 and 1927 – produce an circulate of majestic austerity. The self-portrait in the “Zambaccian Museum” seems to stop from the Italian Renaissance, of a solemn gravity but also with a note of sensuality.

In personal exhibitions, between 1903 and 1923 at the Romanian Athenaeum, then at the “Home of Art” (1926–1930), culminating taking into account the two retrospectives at the “Sala Dalles” in 1936 and 1940. He participated in the Venice Biennale (1924, 1938 and 1940); he standard the “Grand Prize” of the “International Exhibition” in Barcelona (1929) and the one in Paris (1937).

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