Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Charles Constantine Hoffbauer, Versatile Franco-American

Charles Hoffbauer (1875-1957) was a French artist who spent much of his career in the United States. A useful summary of his career is here. It mentions that he "enrolled at the École National des Beaux-Arts where his peers included Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, and Albert Marquet." After his army service: "In 1898, Hoffbauer’s first submission to the Paris Salon was awarded Honorable Mention, and the following year he became the youngest artist to earn a Gold Medal and be deemed Hors Concours -- a status he held for seven years."

So he got off to a good start. As might be expected, his early paintings were traditional in style. But around the time he turned 30, he adopted a looser technique that had Impressionist overtones when it came to color. But it might also be said that he was a tiny bit expressionistic in his handling of forms, especially when he was in his forties.

Much of his American work in the 1920s was as just described. But he had received a commission to paint Civil War murals for the Battle Abbey at the Confederate Memorial Institute at Richmond, Virginia (see here). This work was painted traditionally and was done both before and following the Great War which interrupted it, Hoffbauer returning to France to serve in the army. Later on, he worked in film animation.

I'm inclined to place Hoffbauer as a fine-artist whose work came close to illustration. Nothing wrong with that; most of the Masters fall into that category as well.


A Masked Ball - c. 1901
An early painting, still under the influence of his academic training.

At the Ball - 1905

La sortie de l'Opéra - 1905

Dîner sur le Toit - 1905

In the Restaurant - 1905
A set of Belle Époche images.

Jeune femme à la lecture
A rather unusual style and subject for Hoffbauer.

German Prisoners
Painted during the Great War while he was in the army.

Broadway sous la neige, devant l'Hotel Astor, New York - 1925
Apologies for the blurred image, but it's the best I could locate.

Herald Square, New York
Other sources have titles mentioning rainy streets in New York, but Herald Square this is. The tall, dark building in the center is the Times Building and building at the right with the arcade is the Herald Building.

Metropolitan Life Tower, New York
The smaller tower at the left was part of the original Madison Square Garden.

Times Square at Night
The Times Building is on the left (we are looking south). The building with the Turkish and American flags is the Hotel Astor.

Spring: Stonewall Jackson reviewing his troops in the Shenandoah Valley
An explanation as to how Hoffbauer did the murals is here.

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