Thursday, September 3, 2015

Antonin Chittussi

Paris as Viewed from Montmartre
oil on canvas
124 × 150 cm    
National Gallery in Prague

Antonin Chittussi (1847-1891) was a Czech Impressionist landscape and cityscape painter. His father came from a family of merchants who lived in Ferrara and moved to Bohemia during the Napoleonic Wars.

At first, he was expected to follow in the family business, but displayed an aptitude for art. At the age of eighteen, he went to Prague, with the intent to study engineering but, instead, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. However, he was dissatisfied with the courses being offered and went to Munich instead, but he became tired of their Academic approach. He was called to Vienna for military service, but was able to obtain a deferral. Later, he returned to the Academy in Prague to study history painting.

Following the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War in 1878, the Austro-Hungarian Army moved in to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina and, as an army reservist, he was called up and sent to the front. The death and destruction he witnessed had a profound effect on him, which he attempted to work through emotionally. He was able to make a series of small drawings and watercolors, which he exhibited on his return and, with the help of friends, succeeded in financing a trip to Paris. In 1880, he rented a small studio and began to work on absorbing the new styles. He soon gained the support of the writer Elemir Bourges.

In 1887, he developed health problems, which were believed to be related to the time he spent outdoors, painting during inclement weather. He gradually grew weaker and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In an effort to stop the disease's progress, he went to the Tatra Mountains, but it was too late. In 1891, he died in Prague on the way home from treatment.