Petrascu, Gheorghe (1872-1949) - 1924 Self-Portrait with Red Beret (Zambaccian Museum, Bucharest, Romania)
Romanian painter and printmaker. After attending the Faculty of Science, he studied at the School of Fine Arts, Bucharest (1893–8), under Nicolae Grigorescu. He then studied in Munich (1898–9), and in Paris (1899–1902), where he enrolled at the Académie Julian as a pupil of William Bouguereau and Gabriel Ferrier (1847–1914). He was a founder-member of the Artistic Youth Society (Societatea Tinerimea Artistica) in Bucharest in 1900, consistently exhibiting with them from 1901. He held his first one-man exhibition in Bucharest in 1900 and in 1901 began almost annual working tours of France and Romania. In 1902 he visited and sketched in museums in London, Munich and Vienna, becoming particularly attracted to the work of Titian, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Goya, Whistler and Monet. A journey in 1906 to Aswan in Egypt led him towards a more dramatic perception of light contrasts in his painting (e.g. Aspect Oriental , 1907; Bucharest, Mus. A.). Landscape was the most frequent subject of his early work, often incorporating buildings. He gradually developed a repertory of more intimate themes, including still-lifes, everyday street scenes and interiors, nudes, group compositions, portraits and, above all, self-portraits. From these recurrent themes, dating from the 1920s, evolved the series of Ateliers , Venetian Landscapes and Self-portraits (e.g. Self-portrait with Red Beret , 1924; Bucharest, Zambaccian Mus.). Petrascu assimilated the pictorial freedoms of Impressionism, as well as Post-Impressionism, and appreciated Expressionist values. He concentrated on the structure of the composition, on the internal cohesion of the pictorial matter, with its superimpositions and tonal juxtapositions, which added to the pictorial surface a richness and a control of space and form. Following a trip to Spain in 1925, where he studied the Spanish Old Masters, to whose work he always felt attracted, his painting showed an even greater freedom. Petrascu was also active as a printmaker, producing over 60 etchings, and between 1929 and 1940 he was Director of the Pinacoteca Nationala in Bucharest.