Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Richard Zommer

Oriental travellers
before 1918
oil on cardboard
39 × 68 cm
location unknown

Zommer Richard (1866-1939), born in Munich, was known as а Russian painter, watercolorist and graphic artist. His artistic style is often considered to be a mix of Realism and Impressionism based on the subject matter and artistic technique. He created numerous pictorial and graphical works mainly having a genre-ethnographical character. Pictures with common and battle scenes as well as views of Turkestan’s architecture, landscapes of ancient blocks in Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarkand were very popular among his contemporaries.

From 1884 he studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and had considerable success, receiving several awards for his work. His most prolific period relates to the last decade of the nineteenth century, which he spent in Asia, where he was sent in an archaeological expedition and worked as an ethnologist. During this period he produced a series of portraits, landscapes and works on paper.

At the beginning of the twentieth century he went to Georgia, where he led an active life, travelling extensively. He walked almost the entirety of the Caucasus Mountains and produced a number of works during this period that provide a fascinating insight into the Caucasus from an ethnographic point of view, as well as glimpses of everyday occurrences and situations.

During the 1930s, Georgian intellectuals and artists suffered under the Stalinist regime, and in 1939 he was forced to leave Georgia. After this period his exact whereabouts are unknown, this can in part be explained by the fact that all ethnic Germans were relocated to Siberia and Kazakhstan before World War II. What is clear is that he had a remarkable and dynamic life. Always on the move, he explored man and his character, creating pictures in his individual and unique way, and provided an important role in the history of twentieth century Georgian painting.