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Anton von Stadler

* 1850 – † 1917

Franconian Forest

Oil on canvas
47,5 cm53,2 cm

Signed and dated at bottom left: T. Stadler 1902 Labelled on verso: Fränkischer Wald

Franconian Forest

Having completed his study of medicine, Toni von Stadler set off for Berlin in 1873 in order to take painting lessons with Paul Friedrich Meyerheim.1 He ended his training five years later and settled in Munich, where he would remain for the rest of his life. In Munich the Austrian-born artist met Adolf Stäbli,2 Gustav Schönleber, and Hans Thoma. What few comments Stadler is known to have made about art reveal a very reserved personality and this is a quality that seems to shine through in his art as well.3 The artist’s apparent preference for small formats suggests a penchant for understatement, as well as supplying a plausible explanation for his having long been overlooked at exhibitions, or even “industriously passed over” according to Fritz von Ostini.4 The same scholar emphasized the importance to Stadler of both the old Netherlandish painters and the Barbizon School:5 “Rembrandt’s classical landscape drawings, the dune paintings by the younger Ruysdael, Koningh, and van der Meer from Haarlem have had more than a secondary influence on Stadler,” he wrote, adding that ”the Barbizon masters also count among Stadler’s artistic educators.” Barbizon also played a crucial role for Stäbli and Otto Frölicher6, the artist friends thought to have been closest to Stadler.7 What impressed Ostini in Stadler was his “remarkably good eye for geological and botanical forms.”8 This view of nature, which is indeed a hallmark of Stadler’s painting, can perhaps be traced back to his study of medicine. His landscape forms – the trees in this painting, for example – composed entirely of tiny dabs of paint applied with a pointed brush are reminiscent of slides under a microscope. Executed in a mixture of tempera and oil – a combination used by almost no other artist apart from Stadler – this very fine style of painting makes his works instantly recognizable. The intricacy of his brushwork may have resulted in a certain degree of stylization, yet no matter how small the format, Stadler never lost his grasp of the larger whole. What he learned from the Barbizon School was the notion of the paysage intime, even if his means of achieving it were very different from theirs. Ostini tells us that Stadler never painted en plein air, although he did produce drawings there: “Stadler appropriated an exquisite style of painterly drawing and so perfected it that he cannot have had many rivals in that discipline.”9 It follows that Stadler’s oil paintings were painted after his drawings in his studio. They are not spontaneous expressions, therefore, but rather subtly planned compositions that build heavily on the line – which links the artist not only to Thoma and Stäbli, but also to Jugendstil. Of a piece with this is Stadler’s love of flat landscapes with towering skies and summery weather. Toni von Stadler counts among the founding members of the Munich Secession; he is also known to have championed both Thoma and Stäbli. After the death of Hugo von Tschudi, he was appointed to run the Munich art collections at the Pinakothek, which he did from 1912 to 1914. It was not least for this service that the king of Bavaria ennobled him in 1914.

  1. Paul Friedrich Meyerheim (1842 Berlin – 1915 Berlin).

  2. Adolf Stäbli (1842 Winterthur – 1901 Munich).

  3. According to Ostini, Fritz von, “Toni Stadler,” in Die Kunst, 20, No. 4, Munich 1905, p. 76

  4. Ibid., pp. 73–74

  5. Ibid., p. 77.

  6. Otto Frölicher (1840 Solothurn – 1890 Munich). Frölicher was a great champion of the paysage intime.

  7. Ostini 1905, p. 77

  8. Ibid., p. 78.

  9. Ibid., p. 79.

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