Sharing a common country of birth (Holland) and a love of color and boldness in their paintings, Vincent Van Gogh and Anthony Thieme (1888-1954) both endured emotional turmoil and both ended their lives the same way.
Striking out on his own at the age of seventeen, Johannes Thieme (he later changed his first name to Anthony), became a fearless and adventurous traveler….. Along his artistic way he studied oil painting, watercolor, printmaking, and drawing in Dusseldorf, Naples, the Hague, and Paris.
As soon as he turned 14, Thieme enrolled in Holland’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Afterward, he studied for two years at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Yet even after this training, Thieme still could not convince his parents to support his desire to become an artist.
Thieme’s career began in Germany, where he was employed as a stage designer while he developed his painting skills. After three years, he traveled to Switzerland, then Italy, where he worked as a stage designer in Turin. In 1909, he enrolled in the Scuola di Belle Arti, where he studied for a year before moving on to Naples. He spent two years sketching and painting in Naples, then traveled to London before taking the proceeds from the sale of some of his sketches and booking passage to New York.
Thieme traveled to the United States at the age of 22. He quickly found work as a stage designer at the Century Theater in New York, designing sets for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. When the commission ended, he traveled to South America, primarily Brazil and Argentina. Stage work again provided his livelihood. A return to Europe followed with further work in England, France, and Italy.
Returning to the United States with a contract for additional stage work, Thieme found himself in Boston. He discontinued work on the stage in 1928 and from then on made his living with the sales of his paintings and etchings. He exhibited his work frequently at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. He continued to travel widely; Mexico, Guatemala, Florida, and France were major destinations, always painting en plein air.
Oil on Canvas, Circa 1920
Provenance: Private Chicago Collection
Emotionally cool with the sense of the coming crisp weather, an estate along a still lakeshore (above) has just the slightest suggestion of ripple across the water’s glassy surface. An absolutely amazing artistic accomplishment to make this blend of diverse application techniques work so well together on one canvas. It appears that layers of color had to be blended to create the reflective water, polished down ever so delicately with a brush. In stark contrast, the tree trunks look like they are oil straight out of the tube and pushed along the canvas vertically. Heavy impasto, aggressive brushwork and even spots of bare canvas intentionally peeking through are all noticeable.
The painting contains multiple levels of appreciation, which must be viewed first hand to realize. While the artist has set the season, especially with the burnt umber and varied foliage, he chose to keep the exact lake unidentified in his original title. Perhaps the human figure, centrally near a small boat hull - in this viewer’s opinion - would be the one to ask.
Thieme historically worked on scenes throughout the Cape Ann Peninsula, traveling about in a modified horse-drawn wagon he converted into an art studio. Likewise, later, he spent significant amount of time in Florida and the Caribbean. He still owns a reputation for establishing friendly relationships with locals and visitors alike, but would tolerate no interruptions while working at a canvas.
In 1929, Thieme married Lillian Beckett and bought a cottage in Rockport, Mass. He set up a studio in the area, which had become a summer resort destination for nationally-known artists. According to a 1961 account by John Kieran, “There are studios on almost every street, and every day in summer you see outdoor groups of pupils working under different masters at picturesque points along the roadside.” Thieme opened the Thieme Summer School of Art in Rockport in 1929 and served as its director until 1943.
(Alexandra A.Jopp at bestamericanart.blogspot.com)
Oil on Canvas, Circa 1929
A Cape Ann Retreat (framed)
Oil on canvas
Portrayed with a spectral array of autumn colors, Thieme has found a restful cabin in a secluded location on the Cape Ann Peninsula (above). Showing his diversity with subject matter, he incorporates the reflective coastal inlet and ever-present boats of the area with the aged structure. The work becomes a blend of the things he is known for: his professional handling of light and shadow, strong natural coloration and great impasto application of his oil to canvas.
Silent and serene, one’s senses are activated by implication to Thieme’s work. The visual stimulation conveys the cool, almost icy touch of the water, and the rarely broken silence of movement through the crackling ground cover. Inside would be a fireplace of warmth and strong . His heavy palette approach gives a depth to the objects which creates a dimensional realism.
Thieme’s wife, Becky, once wrote of her husband “he often says that he was born 50 years to late”. Thieme longed for simpler times amid the march of progress. He worked relentlessly at his art, and became one of the premier, internationally recognized members of the Cape Ann and Rockport School of Art. He painted scenes from the diverse Cape Ann Peninsula, traveling about in a modified horse-drawn wagon he converted into an art studio. He owned a reputation for establishing friendly relationships with locals and visitors alike, but would tolerate no interruptions while working at a canvas.
Oil on Canvas, Circa 1929
Thieme’s favorite subjects were the historic fishing ports on the north shore of Massachusetts. His admiration for the gleaming colors and the lyric quality of the marine subjects dominated his style. “The open air is my studio,” Thieme said. “A good landscape painter must paint fast to catch the light of any hour. Unless you know what to put in, what to leave out, the result is a mess.”
(Alexandra A. Jopp at bestamericanart.blogspot.com)
Oil on Canvas, Circa 1935
The net fishermen of Rockport (above), in an array of a lobster boat, yawls of colorful hues and a seaworthy white rowed boat, work aboard their crafts in the chill morning light. Local onlookers fill the scene, and the conversations over coffee would drift from fishing to social affair and politics back to fishing. The work becomes of blend of the things Thieme is known for artistically; his professional handling of light and shadow, strong natural coloration and great impasto application of his oil to canvas.
Silent and serene, the water holds on to Thieme’s special ability to portray wet reflections and the soft tidal sensation of slow movement in the harbor. No power boat wake pushing through the soft light that mutes the distance across the harbor, as the sea birds glide above. Most heads are down, looking at the tasks at hand, or just keeping a close eye on the others.
Thieme’s wife, Becky, once wrote of her husband “he often says that he was born 50 years too late”. Thieme longed for simpler times amid the march of progress. He worked relentlessly at his art, and became one of the premier, internationally recognized members of the Cape Ann and Rockport schools of art.
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas
Autumn in Rockport
Oil on Canvas
Cape Ann Street Scene in Autumn
Oil on Canvas
Circus at Night
Oil on Canvas
Main Street, Rockport
Oil on canvas
Main Street, Rockport (framed)
Oil on canvas
His technique differs from most artists of his time period but it is thought to be a product of his traveling lifestyle, and being a part of the world. He typically wintered in South Carolina, Guatemala, Mexico, and the Bahamas, as well as in St. Augustine, Florida, where he took a studio in 1947.
Because of his frequent intercourse with multiple environments, he was enveloped in different cultures and scenes that can be shown through his colors, strokes, and subject matters. It was so refined that art critics to connoisseurs alike praised his work. He has won numerous prizes, has and is featured in a number of museums, and has found a permanent place in literature.
Anthony Thieme received favorable criticism and artistic awards during his career, including two in 1930: the Delano Prize from the New York Watercolor Club, and the Athenaeum Prize at the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts; the Lucien Powell Citizen Jury Prize from the Los Angeles Museum (1931); the Gold Medal for the Best Painting in New England by the Contemporary Artists Association (1944); and an award for the best marine painting at the Pan-American Art Show in Miami (1949). Anthony and “Becky” wintered in St. Augustine, and after he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1935, they visited Mexico and Guatemala where the hot, primary colors of the two Spanish- language countries influenced his palette.
Thieme was a strong proponent of the visual arts and held memberships in many associations: American Water Color Society; Art Alliance of America; Salmagundi Club; Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts; Boston Art Club; Providence Water Color Club; Boston Society of Artists; North Shore Art Association; Springfield Art League; Rockport Art Association; New York Water Color Club; American Artists Professional League; Gloucester Society of Artists; Art Alliance of Philadelphia; Philadelphia Painters Club; and the National Arts Club.
As a function of these many memberships, he was an active exhibitor: National Academy of Design 1930-1934; Art Institute of Chicago 1930; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 1929-1931; Corcoran Gallery of Art 1932; Los Angeles Museum of Art 1930, 1931 (prize); Albright Art Gallery 1932; Detroit Institute of Art 1931; Salmagundi Club 1929 and 1931 (prizes); Springfield, Utah 1928 and 1931 (prizes); Gloucester Art Association 1928 (prize); Springfield Art League 1927 and 1928 (prizes); North Shore Art Association 1930 (prize); Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts 1930 (prize); Jordon Marsh Exhibition (Boston) 1944 (medal); New York Water Color Club 1930 (prize); Boston Tercentenary Exhibition 1930; Ogunquit Art Center 1930; New Haven Painters and Clay Club 1931 (prize); Washington Water Color Club 1931(prize); Los Angeles Museum of Art; Buck Hill Falls Art Association (Pennsylvania) 1938 (prize); he also exhibited in Belgium, France and Holland.
Anthony Thieme's work is held in high regard by collectors and Museums alike, and he is represented in many major collections: Boston Museum of Fine Art; Pittsfield Museum of Art (Massachusetts); Albany Institute of History and Art; Dayton Art Institute; City of New Haven Collection; College of Springfield (Utah); University of Iowa; Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles Museum of History, Science & Art; Beach College, Storrs, Connecticut; Montclair Art Museum (New Jersey).
(Edwin J. Andres Fine Art at hlchalfant.com)