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George Sauter (1866 - 1937)

The Leeds Picture (1908)


He was born at Rettenbach, Bavaria and studied art at the Royal Academy in Munich, moving to London for twenty years in 1895 following periods of study across Europe, working in Holland, Belgium France and Italy.

He married Lilian Galsworthy, the daughter of John Galsworthy - the novelist and creator of the Forsyte Saga. This gave him introductions to A-List artists of the period including Whistler, Joseph Pennell, G. F. Watts, Hubert Herkomer, James Guthrie, Joseph Conrad, Laurence Binyon, Campbell Dodgson plus curators of the British Museum.

Working mostly in oil on canvas he produced mainly portraits and landscapes.

At the end of the 19th century he was appointed Honorary Secretary to the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers during Whistler's Presidency which ended in 1903.

In 1902 he produced a controversial painting titled the Bridal Morning which later caused outrage in 1909, when it was exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Carnegie Art Institute.

Albert Boime wrote in The American Art Journal

'In the sprint of 1909, in what was surely one if the most curious incidents in the evolution of American art appreciation, Georg Sauter's Bridal Morning, a prize winning picture in the thirteenth annual exhibition of the Carnegie Art Institute was received by the public in much the same way that Manet's Dejeuner sur L'herbe had been in 1863.

'But while Manet's work was boldly and flauntingly set forth in both form and content a revolutionary principle for French art a half century earlier, Sauter's painting could hardly have been indicted as a subversive aesthetic experiment in 1909.

'Nevertheless, Sauter's presentation could even provoke more public outrage than any single exhibit of the notorious 1908 and 1910 shows of The Eight in New York. Even more astonishing was the fact that the primary focus of the denunciation was a standing nude seen directly from behind, her feminine charms almost completely concealed and whose heavily impastoed and brilliantly illuminated all but suppressed her erotic potential.'

Sauter responded to the protests, draughting a letter to the Director of the Carnegie Art Institute: 'the picture simply embodies a thought or idea in form and color'.

With the break out of World War I. Having never become a British citizen, Sauter was interned in December of 1915, he was repatriated to Germany in early 1917. He finally made a home in the mountains of Austria, St Margarethen in the Lungau in 1933.

Article By: Dave Roberts.

First Published: 2007.


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