Artist Spotlight: Hans Thoma

Was Thoma gay? How many fauns, satyrs, and lonely naked guys on the beach can you depict before your own art outs you?

BY Christopher Harrity

April 20 2013 3:00 AM ET


Two Boys, 1915

Hans Thoma (October 2, 1839 – November 7, 1924) was born in Bernau in the Black Forest, Germany. Having started life as a painter of clock-faces, he entered the Karlsruhe academy in 1859, where he studied under Schirmer and Des Coudres. He subsequently studied and worked, with but indifferent success, in Düsseldorf, Paris, Italy, Munich, and Frankfurt, until his reputation became firmly established as the result of an exhibition of some 30 of his paintings in Munich. He died in Karlsruhe in 1924 at the age of 85.

In spite of his studies under various masters, his art had little in common with other works of the time. His work was formed partly by his early impressions of the simple idyllic life of his native district, partly by his sympathy with the early German masters, and has affinities with the pre-Raphaelites. You can practically hear Wagnerian music in the background.

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