The vivid portraits of German artist Fritz Reusing are the legacy of an artist known as the last of his kind.
Reusing trained at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and travelled along the long line of artistic legacy left behind by his predecessors at one of the esteemed artistic institutions of Germany. The Düsseldorf School were known for their romantic, spirited paintings, especially during the 19th century.
By the turn of the 20th century, when Reusing was striding out in his career, their popularity was waning. Reusing’s skill, however, appealed greatly to a large number of clients. In portrait painting in particular, the romantic yet naturalistic hand was more popular than the abstract style which was becoming increasingly popular. The traditions of the Düsseldorf School were hanging on with fierce determination, and Reusing was their greatest advocate in portraiture.
Reusing’s accomplishments are evident in the long list of high-profile clients who chose his brush for the artistic commemoration of their memory. From famous scientist Albert Einstein to German kaisers and army leaders, Reusing’s brush was a bilingual bastion for the evocation of each sitter’s character. He was praised for his vivacious brushwork, each slash across the canvas breathing charisma into the subject.
His sitters are ennobled further by their settings, each background tailored to compliment the figure. On the whole, his portraits work harmoniously with an undertone of understated refinement. Loud octaves are achieved through dashes of colour picked with a particular nature to avoid becoming too loud.
His portraits of army leaders in particular are imbued with a strong sense of valour and vainglorious vanity. They were intended to depict the sitters with as much pomp as possible, painted during times of war in the early 20th century. Reusing’s brush could be turned to whatever sitter in whatever context and produce a work grounded in realism yet infused with just enough romanticism to emphasise his sitters’ spirit.
Such efforts brought Reusing great acclaim. He exhibited extensively and won medals at international exhibitions such as the one held in Munich in 1901. Indeed, his passion paid off and is entirely obvious in the many art societies and associations to which he subscribed, particularly in Düsseldorf.
Despite his career taking him across the world, Reusing would return to the place that started it all, becoming an active part of the art scene. The city would repay him in kind, and his legacy goes beyond his paintings. A street in the town of Haan, just outside of Düsseldorf, is named after him.
Born in Mülheim.
Became a member of the Malkasten Artists’ Association.
Won a gold medal at the International Art Exhibition, Munich.
Exhibited at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition.
Made an honorary member of the Düsseldorf Art Academy.
Died in Haan.