Erik Satie (El Bohemio, Poet of Montmartre)
by Ramón Casas, 1891
oil on canvas, 200 x 100 cm
Catalan painter Ramón Casas (1866-1932) inhabited the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century modern art scenes in Barcelona and Paris along with contemporaries such as John Singer Sargent, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pablo Picasso. He specialized in portraits of intellectuals and artists, charcoal drawings, and commercial posters. His 1891 painting El Bohemio, Poet of Montmartre, a portrait of the French avant-garde composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), hangs in the Art Library's Martin Reading Room on the third floor of Deering Library.
Casas lived in Paris in the 1890s in the bohemian Montmartre district. He lived with another well-known Spanish painter, Maurice Utrillo, who introduded him to Erik Satie. In Casas's portrait, Satie stands before the famous Moulin de la Galette, a popular restaurant and dance hall in Montmartre.
This portrait was acquired by Charles Deering (1852-1927), the Northwestern benefactor for whom Deering Library is named, when Deering studied painting in Paris in the early 1890s. Deering befriended Casas, and Casas visited the United States twice as his guest, in 1908 and in 1924. After Deering's death, the Satie portrait was inherited by his daughter, Mrs. Chauncey McCormick, and she bequeathed the painting to Northwestern University Library in 1956. The painting has lately traveled around the world, displayed several in major museum exhibitions: