El Bohemio by Ramon Casas

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El Bohemio, Poet of Montmartre
by Ramon Casas, 1891

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Catalan artist Ramon Casas (1866-1932) was a friend of Charles Deering (1852-1927), the Northwestern benefactor for whom Deering Library is named. He was influential in the modern art scenes in Barcelona and Paris, with contemporaries including John Singer Sargent, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and the young Pablo Picasso. His 1891 painting El Bohemio, Poet of Montmartre, a portrait of French avant-garde composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), hangs in the Art Collection.

Satie, who influenced Debussy, Ravel and others, met Casas in Paris through another well-known Spanish painter, Maurice Utrillo. In Casas's portrait, Satie stands before the famous Moulin de la Galette in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris, where Casas and Utrillo lived. Casas, who lived in Paris in the 1890s, and who was admired by Picasso, specialized in portraits of intellectuals and artists, charcoal drawings, and commercial posters. Casas visited the United States twice, in 1908 and in 1924, as a guest of Charles Deering.

This portrait was acquired by Charles Deering when he studied painting in Paris in the early 1890s. It was bequeathed to Northwestern University Library by his daughter, Mrs. Chauncey McCormick, in 1956. The painting has traveled around the world as a part of major museum exhibitions including:

Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre, The National Gallery of Art (March-June 2005) and The Art Institute of Chicago (July-October 2005)
Barcelona and Modernity, The Cleveland Institute of Art (October 2006-January 2007) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (March-June 2007)
Bohemes, RMN - Grand Palais (September 2012-January 2013)
Luces de Bohemia, Fundacion MAPFRE (February-May 2013)
Esprit Montmartre, Schirn Kunsthalle (February-June 2014)