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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Georg Arnold-Graboné

My copy of an Alpine landscape (heavily edited). Anyone recognize the image or know the name of artist?
Many years ago, 1969 to be exact, shortly after I was discharged from the U.S. Air Force, I spent a few weeks helping my aunt and uncle redecorate a home they'd just purchased. Both were anxious to encourage my slowly evolving art skills. They commissioned a double portrait and asked me to copy an old Alpine print they had hanging over the couch in their living room. It was probably ten or twenty years old at the time and starting to fade with age. I never knew the name of the artist. The results (above) as seen from an old Polaroid color print, was among the best work I'd done at the time and the first landscape I'd painted since high school (I was about twenty-four at the time). Today, as I was picking through the paintings of the German landscape painter, Georg Arnold-Grabone, I had such a feeling of deja-vu... I don't know if the print I copied was by Arnold-Grabone or not, but my thinking is it could have been, it's so similar to his work.

The title of this is (I swear), Mountain Farm in the High Mountains,
by Georg Arnold-Grabone
Despite its redundant title, it's interesting to compare Arnold-Grabone's Mountain Farm in the High Mountains (above) as to style, composition, and content with the print by the unknown artist I copied at the top. To be fair, I also found two or three other artists doing this type of work who would be likely candidates to have originated my uncle's print. Arnold-Grabone's Summer at the Lake (below) is quite close to it as to color and composition. The more I studied and compared his work, in searching for similarities, the more came to admire the artist's rugged mountain landscapes.

Summer at the Lake, Georg Arnold-Grabone
Matterhorn Landscape,
Georg Arnold-Grabone
Usually it's about here I include a few self-portraits of the artist and a brief biography. Today you're going to have to be satisfied with just the brief biography in that I can't even locate a photo of this man, much less a self-portrait. In fact faces seem not to have been his forte. I could not find a single figure in any of his works (which is not to say he never painted people). Georg Arnold was born in Munich in 1896, the son of the Regional-President Wilheim von Arnold. He studied at the Munich Art Academy. In 1914 the young artist passed the academy exit examination, and volunteered as an enlistee in the Kaiser's Army. While serving in World War I, Arnold suf-fered a head injury from a grenade explosion. The injury left him temp-orarily without hearing or speech. Because of his injuries he was discharged from the army. He returned to his native homeland.

Every landscape painter has a favorite location.
This was Arnold-Grabone's favorite.
With no additional schooling, Arnold began to paint everything in sight. His speech and hearing gradually returned as did his love of painting. He began to study formally in Stuttgart and Vienna under Professor Lippert. There he became a member of a circle of painters known as the “Licht-Gruppe" (light group). During the 1920s, Arnold began to abandon Cubism and other experimental forms to embrace a more traditional painting style. He returned to Munich where he studied landscape painting under Heinrich von Zügel, Leo von Konig, and in Berlin with the well-known German impressionist, Max Liebermann. After winning a gold medal in 1928 for his oil painting, Hardanger Fjord, Arnold moved to Zurich where he taught at an art academy, later becoming its Rector. His View on the Catinaccio’ (below) dates from this period.

View on the Catinaccio’, 1930, Georg Arnold-Grabone
Lodzie Rybackie, 1950,
Georg Arnold-Grabon
It wasn't until 1936 that Arnold began to use the name Graboné as a professional moniker rather than Arnold. Graboné was derived from his family's traditional hometown. Although Arnold-Grabone was financially successful as a painter, he painted largely because of his love of the aesthetic. Arnold-Grabone is also well remembered as a marine painter as well. His Island of Capri (below) exhi-bits much the same bold brushwork as Arnold-Grabo-ne's Alpine mountains, only at a somewhat lower altitude.

Island of Capri, Georg Arnold-Grabone
In 1951 U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was stationed in Garmisch, (southern) Germany as the NATO commander of occupied Europe. To relieve stress, former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, encouraged Eisenhower to make painting his hobby. Eisenhower followed Churchill’s advice. He began to take lessons from Arnold-Graboné. At that time, the artist had his studio only a convenient short distance from Eisenhower’s headquarters. However, for a period of time later, Eisenhower flew twice-a-week from Paris to Fürstenfeldbruck, and then by automobile to Tutzing in order to continue his art lessons. The two formed a friendship that later found one of Arnold-Graboné’s paintings hanging in the White House. The former president also hung one of Arnold-Grabone's paintings at his home in Gettysburg.

An Eisenhower mountain scene in Germany.
Georg Arnold-Graboné’s group of American friends at NATO headquarters allowed him to market his works to the NATO junior officers whom he often invited to exhibitions of his work. As a consequence, many young American officers purchased paintings and brought them back to the United States. Through Eisenhower, Arnold-Graboné eventually came to know England's Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was interested in the artist's palette knife technique and asked him for some help. The two of them spent several weeks one summer in the early 1950s painting together on the Isle of Man. Churchill, unlike Eisenhower, never gravitated to Arnold-Grabone's Alpine subject matter, preferring instead to paint seascapes and ships. Churchill's A View of Marrakesh (below), dating from 1950-51, is about the only painting the elder statesman ever did involving mountains.

A View of Marrakesh, 1950-51, Winston Churchill.




  2. Bonnie Lou--

    I found the ORIGINAL of your litho for sale at an online auction house asking $650. ( seem to have been no bids so I'm guessing it did not sell. That should suggest what a lithograph of the work might be worth.