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Anthony Johannes Thieme

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Anthony Johannes Thieme was born in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam in 1888. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam, at the Royal Academy at the Hague, as an apprentice to George Hoecker, a well known stage designer in Düsseldorf, Germany, and to Antonio Mancini, an Italian Impressionist. After completing his studies, Thieme journeyed throughout Europe and South America, working in stage design to support his travels. Thieme first came to the United States in 1917 and initially worked as a set designer and book illustrator first in New York and later in Boston.

By the late 1920s, Thieme had married and moved from Boston to Cape Ann in Rockport, Massachusetts, an emerging art colony. Like the other Rockport artists, his style was influenced by Impressionism, with special attention paid to the effects of light, but also by the Dutch tradition of seascape painting. Throughout his career, Thieme favored painting en plein air, or outside, because it allowed him to better capture the atmosphere’s fleeting effects. He has been referred to as the “Master of Light and Shadow.”

Thieme’s paintings were often met with critical acclaim and were displayed at galleries in New York, London, and Paris. He also established the Thieme School of Art at Cape Ann in 1929 and taught classes out of his studio until 1943. Tragedy struck in 1946 when his studio burned to the ground, destroying much of the work he had produced over thirty years. Devastated by this loss, Thieme left Massachusetts in search of new adventures and inspirations. He traveled south to Charleston, South Carolina and was greatly inspired by the dense tropical foliage and the warm coastal light. He spent two months in Charleston, painting prolifically, before continuing on to Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America. Until his mysterious death in 1954, Thieme spent his summers in Rockport and the winter months based in St. Augustine, Florida.

Throughout his career, Thieme exhibited his work widely and was active in numerous art associations and clubs. He participated in exhibitions across the country including ones at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. He was a member of the National Arts Club, the American Watercolor Society, the Salmagundi Club, the Boston Art Club, the Art Alliance of America, and the Rockport Art Association.


by Kenneth W. Maddox
Anthony Thieme, born in Rotterdam, Holland, began his artistic training by making notes of historical buildings and life in the canals of his hometown. Throughout his career, he retained his penchant for depicting ancient and picturesque buildings and shaped the lanes and huts of the fishermen of Rockport in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, as well as the historic monuments of Charleston, South Carolina, and St. Augustine, Florida. In this sense, it is worth remembering what the artist wrote about his wife: “He used to say that he was born fifty years too late. He was disturbed by the agitation and bustle of modern life. ”

In 1947 Thieme and his wife began to spend the winters in St. Augustine. At the St. Augustine and Nassau exhibition, held at the Grand Central Galleries in New York in November 1948, two of his paintings depicted the homes of blacks in and around St. Augustine. The number 14, Cabañas de negros , is the work we are discussing here, while the number 18, Bohíos in Florida , is almost certainly Bohios in Florida, Palatka , which belongs to the Robert C. Slack Collection. In the catalog of the four-page exhibition, it was said that “the artist, when installed in this city, finds a great inspiration, not only in the charming old city within the walls, but also in the black neighborhoods, In the swamps, On the banks of the rivers. ” In the Thieme exhibition entitled Old Charleston, which took place one year earlier at the Grand Central Galleries, the themes of his works were fundamentally the historic buildings of Charleston, such as the one in the box titled Black Church-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. In the Thieme exhibition entitled Old Charleston, which took place one year earlier at the Grand Central Galleries, the themes of his works were fundamentally the historic buildings of Charleston, such as the one in the box titled Black Church-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. In the Thieme exhibition entitled Old Charleston, which took place one year earlier at the Grand Central Galleries, the themes of his works were fundamentally the historic buildings of Charleston, such as the one in the box titled Black Church-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so that nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. Which took place a year earlier at the Grand Central Galleries, the themes of his works were fundamentally the historic buildings of Charleston, such as the one in the box titled Black Church-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. Which took place a year earlier at the Grand Central Galleries, the themes of his works were fundamentally the historic buildings of Charleston, such as the one in the box titled Black Church-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. As for example the one that appears in the picture titled Church black-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. As for example the one that appears in the picture titled Church black-Charleston . But there were no works that represented aspects of the lives of blacks, although the catalog of the exhibition mentioned the interest that these themes had for Thieme: “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “. “But the city itself is not everything. The life of the plantation was very close to Charleston, so nowadays it is passed through moss-lined trees […] along the way, groups of blacks dressed in brightly colored clothes appear to be happily integrated into their Southern landscape “.

A Thieme was not interested in developing a penetrating portrait of black society as it is collected in the work of Eastman Johnson entitled Life of blacks in the South , 1859, The New-York Historical Society. His canvases give us a more colorful aspect of the black community, oblivious to the psychological and physical vexations inflicted on its members. In Cabañas de negros the figures are reduced to a few anonymous brushstrokes of color, and only the title of the work and the dilapidated dwellings make reference to the race of its inhabitants. A brief account of the exhibitions of St. Augustine and Nassau states that all his compositions “are illuminated by a resplendent sun”. As in many other works of his, Thieme is pleased to reflect the reflections on the surface of the water and to punctuate with touches of red the composition. In Cabañas de negros , in addition to graciously portraying the life of the negroes, the impression that Thieme feels a certain sympathy for the roosters or hens represented in the arid and dusty corral that is seen before the bohio of the last term. He himself wrote that he liked “animals, dogs, goats (I have four), chickens and birds.”

The joy and exuberance of the scenes of Thieme does not correspond to the conflicting existence of the painter who, in the last years of his life, suffered a great depression. After his exhibition of scenes on the Spanish Mediterranean, held in the Grand Central Galleries between late October and early November 1954, the artist, at the limit of his forces, undertook a winter trip to his house in St. Augustine . On December 6 he stayed overnight at a hotel in Greenwich, Connecticut, and the next morning he shot himself; His wife was in the adjoining suite room .

Kenneth W. Maddox

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