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 William Turner Dannat  (1853 - 1929)

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Lived/Active: New York / France/Germany      Known for: genre-interior, landscape and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 3
William Turner Dannat
from Auction House Records.
La Femme En Rouge
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Turner Dannat, painter was born in New York City in 1853 to wealthy parents and taken abroad at the age of twelve. He studied architecture in Hanover and Stuttgart before enrolling in the art academics of Florence and Munich.In the winter of 1877-78 Dannat returned briefly to New York, where he showed two works in the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists. In 1879 he went back to Paris and studied under Carolus-Duran and Mihaly Munkacsy. Munkacsy's style, with its forceful realism and debt to Spanish painting, profoundly influenced Dannat's art during the early 1880s. Interestingly Dannat listed Munkacsy as his only teacher during this time even though he received instruction from other prestigious instructors.

Dannat received major recognition in 1883, when the French government purchased his "Le Contrebandier aragonais" (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) from the Paris Salon. He was appointed to the position of secretary of the international art jury of the 1889 Paris Exposition. A second major break in Dannat's career occurred in 1896, when he began an eight-year investigation into the painting techniques of the old masters, conducted with "the aid of rasping tools and of solvents." This study in turn led directly to the development of his more mature work that brought him wide spread recognition. Because of his family ties Dannat was independently wealthy and therefore free to paint for his own satisfaction and to experiment with a variety of pictorial styles. His late works were imaginary landscapes that recall "rococo fetes galantes."

Dannat further demonstrated his versatility at the 1889 Paris Exposition by exhibiting six paintings. "The Quartette," to which Dannat referred as "my most notable picture," was singled out for high praise. "It occupied the place of honor in the United States section," wrote the well-known American art critic Theodore Child, who was also a close friend of Dannat's. His painting technique of this period exhibited the "Spanish style of the early and middle 1880s. He drew his inspiration in part from several sketching tours of Spain and was particularly inspired by the teachings of Carolus-Duran and Munkacsy, who helped to foster Dannat's profound appreciation of Spanish art.

By 1889 Dannat's technique and subject matter had changed radically from his earlier Spanish style. The French art critic Andre Michel astutely differentiated between these two periods when he reviewed Dannat's entries in the Exposition: "A Quartette" and "A Sacristy in Aragon" are in his first manner, less self-contained, less subtle; but we admire in them at once a rare delicacy of eye, and his individuality is clearly written. The profile of the blonde in A Study in Redtone upon tone, reveals aspirations more and more refined, a great sureness of hand, and the most delicious talent."Within this new "style" Dannat developed a pictorial concern with dramatic color harmonies within single hues.

He then later became preoccupied with "feminine beauty, grace, and elegance" during the late 1880s. "Dannat like Whistler, used the figure primarily as a vehicle to explore color harmonies" that exemplified a strong interest in pictorial relations. As Child further observed, "Before we realize what the picture is, we already receive an impression of something rich, rare, and precious.... In the whole exhibition this picture stands out as something new, unlike all that we have seen-a thing of refined invention." an American artist highly acclaimed during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

He also was known for painting genre, portraits, interiors and Arabs. In 1889 Dannat was named a Chevalier and in 1900 he was further elected an Officer of the Legion of Honor. He was president of the Paris Society of American Painters and taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Dannat was also elected to the Society of American Artists and became one of its regular exhibitors. He showed at the National Academy of Design,1888 and 1904: the Royal Academy in London and others. William Turner Dannat passed away in Monte Carlo in 1929.

Blake Benton Fine Art

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