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Paul Baum

* 1859 – † 1932

Toskanische Landschaft (Tuscan Landscape), ca. 1912

Oil on canvas

Signed at bottom left: P. Baum

This painting by Paul Baum probably dates from 1912, or thereabouts. The artist already knew Tuscany from a brief visit to Florence in 1899, but it was during his year-long scholarship to the Villa Romana in Florence in 1909–10 that he paid his first visit to the countryside around San Gimignano, which is where our landscape is set. So great was the attraction of that region between Florence and Siena that when his scholarship ended, Baum decided to settle there permanently. Indeed, with the exception of an intermezzo occasioned by the war from 1914 to 1921, he was to remain there until his death in 1932.1 The painter probably began capturing landscapes in large-format oil paintings only in 1912, having previously approached them primarily in drawings and etchings.2 This explains why his oeuvre of this period numbers just seventeen oils, only thirteen of which are known to us from illustrations.3 This particular Tuscan landscape with its dense vegetation in the right foreground gives viewers an inkling of the unbridled forces of nature before directing the gaze to the gently undulating farmland beyond. The dazzling light on the bright yellow hues of the recently harvested field in the left foreground is dappled by the purple shadows cast by the trees and the young green saplings lining the lower edge of the painting. The lane sweeping into the middle of the composition from bottom right veers off to the left, leading the gaze past planted fields and isolated fruit trees before tracing a broad curve to the right and continuing up the hill to the large farmhouse in the background. The bright warm light of a sunny summer day is reflected in the green tones of the luxuriant vegetation, which make for a contrast with the coolness emanating from the blue sky with its white and mauve clouds. Baum's command of colour and light is a result of his intense engagement with first Impressionism, as of 1890, and then Pointillism, as of the turn of the century, both of which influences are clearly perceptible in our painting. Being constantly in search of artistic methods by which he might reproduce the life of the natural world, Baum continued developing throughout his career and never settled for any one particular style of painting. His evolution as an artist can therefore be understood as a continuous process, in which the role played not only by drawing but also by watercolour painting and etching in his approach to new landscapes and the technical difficulties of reproducing them in oil should not be underestimated.

  1. Paul Baum died of pneumonia in Santa Lucia on 18 May 1932 and is buried in San Gimignano.

  2. Hitzeroth, Wolfram, Paul Baum (1859–1932). Ein Leben als Landschaftsmaler, Marburg 1988, p. 266.

  3. Ibid., pp. 544–545.

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