Theodor Pallady

Theodor Pallady (April 11, 1871, Iaşi — August 16, 1956, Bucharest), great Romanian painter and draughtsman.

He studied painting from the age of 15 under the Tyrolean painter Fidelis Walch. Between 1887 and 1889, he studied engineering at the Dresden University of Technology, where he also had painting lessons with Erwin Oehme who, recognising his artistic intuition, suggested that he went to Paris.

He decided to abandon his proposed career in engineering to dedicate himself to painting, and in 1889 he moved to Paris to attend the studio of Edmond Aman-Jean. In 1891 he and enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts (Académie des Beaux-Arts), where he studied first under Gustave Moreau (he had as colleagues Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, and Albert Marquet), and after Moreau's death in 1897 he became a student of Aimé Morot and Fernand Cormon. Among his near contemporaries were Henri Matisse and André Rouveyre, with whom he had a lasting friendship and correspondence. He frequented the studio of Puvis de Chavannes, whose wife, Marie Cantacuzene, was related to him.

He exhibited for the first time in the Salon and the Exposition Universelle in 1900 in Paris. His first one-man exhibition in Bucharest was in 1904 at the Atheneum, and after settling in Paris in 1906 he had further exhibitions at the Galerie Nunés et Fiquot (1920) and at the Galerie Eugène Blot (1928). He also exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1924, 1940 and 1942.

Pallady was influenced by the Symbolist environment of the late 19th century, and his paintings before 1916 contain Symbolist motifs, sometimes with echoes of Moreau and Puvis de Chavannes. His drawings and colouring show a debt to Renaissance tradition, and his landscapes, which were sometimes large-scale, owe much to the vision of Romania made popular by Nicolae Grigorescu and Ion Andreescu. Around 1920 his style began to show the influence of the analytical drawing of Cubism. His friendship with Matisse was of equal importance: Pallady introduced Matisse to the attraction of Romanian embroidered blouses which formed a recurrent theme in Matisse's work, and Matisse probably encouraged Pallady to use heightened colours a range of subject-matter similar to that employed by Matisse in the 1920s. This diversification was not to last: he came to concentrate on views of Paris and of the south of France, but he also portrayed women, or nudes in interior compositions, as well as painting still-lifes and self-portraits. He was an indefatigable draughtsman, producing numerous drawings of his impressions of nature and also of his observations of Parisian or Bucharest café society. The largest collection of his paintings and drawings is in the National Arts Museum in Bucharest.