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Carl Barnaš (1879-1953)

  • Carl Barnaš (1879-1953) was a German painter, printmaker, and art restorer.  Barnaš was born in Friedberg, Germany and apprenticed with his painter/decorator father before attending the School of Arts and Crafts in Kassel.  He moved to Berlin and attended both the Art Academy and Museum of Arts and Crafts from 1901-1904.  Barnaš studied with the well-known etcher Heinrich Eickmann, and added etching to his already versatile repertoire.  By 1907 Barnaš was living in Paris and studying at the Academie Julien-Colarossi.  Barnaš often took trips to Brittany and to develop his skill as a landscape painter.  He traveled throughout Western Europe painting and eventually settled back in Germany in 1910.

    After World War I, Barnaš was married and living with his wife and two daughters in Berlin.  The post-war art world was changing, and Barnaš observed as French Impressionism and German Expressionism were eclipsed by more avant garde movements like Cubism, Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism. Barnaš stayed informed about new movements but did not adopt these styles, preferring instead to forge ahead with his own independent, albeit subtle, aesthetic.

    By 1934 the Nazi government in Germany demanded that each artist register with the Reich Culture Chamber, and Barnaš’ independent spirit and disdain for Nazi authority kept him outside of the registered coterie of artists.  Forbidden to exhibit his work and morally opposed Hitler’s regime, the Barnas family fled Germany, settling in Prague briefly before moving to Quito, Ecuador.

    Although the economy of Ecuador couldn’t support a working painter trying to sell his own work, Barnaš had learned the art of restoration from his father and was able to open his own studio.  He began with artwork brought into the country by fellow emigrés which led him to the restoration of monasteries, churches, and the collections of local government officials.  Throughout his career, which lasted into his 70s, Barnaš restored more than 400 historic 17th and 18th century paintings and preserved the artistic legacy of an entire region.

    In addition to his restoration business, Barnaš held a teaching position at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Quito.  Accompanying his colleagues from the Science Department, he traveled to remote parts of the Andean and Amazonian landscape.  For the most part it was during these trips that Barnaš could dedicate himself to his true passion, plein air painting.  His daughter, Mary Barnaš Pomeroy, often accompanied him on the expeditions as an apprentice learning the art of botanical illustration. Mary went on to become a celebrated botanical illustrator.

    Most of the works in the Lost Art Collection span Barnaš’ early years in Europe and his South American explorations.  We would like to thank Carl Barnaš’ granddaughters, Flora and Anne for bringing this collection to us through the works of their parents, Frederick and Mary Barnaš Pomeroy.
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