Alexandre Altmann (1878-1932)

We have known the grandson of the artist for over 20 years and are delighted to be able to present these special works for sale.


Alexandre Altmann (1878-1932) – Outstanding representative of pre-revolutionary wave of expatriate Ukrainian painters.

Altmann was born to a Jewish family in a village near Kiev, Ukraine. At the age of 11 he left his home to go to Odessa. In order to earn his living he worked as a tailor, shoemaker, metalworker and salesman in grocery, until the painter Doroshevich took Altmann into his service. Doroshevich noticed the talent of young man and advised him that he should study painting.

He did not find the opportunity of study in the Ukraine and at the age of 20 left his homeland for Vienna and then on to Paris. He was a hard worker and undertook to do any work in order to survive and to study painting.

In Paris the painter lived in poverty and at one time was taken to the Rothschild hospital because he was faint from hunger. It was there that Altmann painted portrait of one patient’s, a poor old man. Unexpectedly the Guardian of hospital bought that portrait and paid what seemed a great sum of money to young painter. Altmann invested this money for entering Paris Academy of R. Julian in mid-1900.

When he left he devoted all his time to his favourite subjects; landscapes, still life works, side streets of Paris and in the small seaside towns along the coast of the Atlantic. The critics acknowledged that his impressionistic works were decorative and spectacular. There was a sense of freedom in everything he did: in texture, in the dabs of paint and in the bright contrasting palette.

alexandre-altmann-artist-1The first personal exhibition of Altmann’s paintings was held in 1908 followed by exhibitions in Paris salons; Salon des Indépendants (1910–1920), Tuileries (1908) and Salon d’Automne (1908–1924). In 1909 Altmann gave some of his paintings for exposition of the first Salon of Vladimir Izdebsky in Odessa, and then in Kiev. The exhibition included the works of all existing art schools — from the Itinerants to les Fauves and cubists. This was hailed as a great critical success for the artist.

He wanted to exhibit in St. Petersburg but because of the Russian Law of the Pale of Settlement, Altmann could not return to Russia, and so his works were unknown in Russia for a long time.

Altmann together with the painters D. O. Widhopff and N. L. Aronson held an exhibition in 1912. At this exhibition France government purchased two winter landscapes by Altmann for the Luxembourg Palace Museum.

Although Altmann was inspired by style and spirit of Impressionist painting, he was acquainted with art schools of the end of the 19th and art influences at the beginning of the 20th century. He had a strong sense of his own style gaining an excellent reputation of a sensitive painter, landscapes and master of portraying the city environs.