LUCHIAN, ªtefan
(b. 1868, Stefanesti, d. 1916, Bucureºti)

Biography

Romanian painter. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest, graduating in 1889 and continuing his studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich and in Paris at the Académie Julian, where he was a student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He rejected the rigidity of academic painting early in his career, however. The Last Autumn Race (1892; Bucharest, Museum of Arts), one of the few paintings known from this period, clearly illustrates the influence of Manet and Impressionism on his early work.

On his return to Romania in 1892 Luchian, unwilling to restrict his work to merely copying the French artists, struggled to create an original style. In 1900 he was left partially paralysed by a spinal disease, but he continued to work, and it is during the next years that he created his most accomplished works. His self-portraits (e.g. 1907; Bucharest, Museum of Arts) are clear evidence of his determination to overcome this personal tragedy; far from inspiring pity, these paintings emphasize the depth and the strength of his inner life. It is in landscapes such as Willows at Chiajna (c. 1907; Cluj-Napoca, Museum of Arts), however, that his commitment becomes even more apparent, with joyful rhythms created by means of broad brushstrokes and contrasts of bright colours next to delicate tones.

Towards the end of his life Luchian became completely immobilized. During this time flowers were his favourite subject, and they became a metaphorical bridge between the artist and the outside world. The colours are still bright in these last paintings, and the loss of pastel tones makes the contrast more dramatic.