Articles
George Löwendal, Painter and Scenographer, from Saint Petersburg to Bucharest. Biographical notes 1897–1964

1897

10 May (27 April, in Old Style calendar) – George, the first son of Baron Lavrentii Löwendal, officer in the Tsarist army, is born in St. Petersburg. According to the short genealogical note included in the family crest, the Löwendal barons descended from Ulrik Frederick Gyldenløve, born in 1638, son of King Frederick III of Denmark and Norway. George’s mother, Lyubov Gavrishova, was the daughter of Lev Osipovich Gavrishov, a hero officer of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The Löwendal family would go on to have other three sons: Lev, Nikolai and Boris.

1914–1917

George Löwendal graduated from highschool in Kiev. He went on to study Fine Arts in St. Petersburg (Petrograd); among other classes, he attended those of the painter Saveliy Moiseyevich Zeydenberg. His mentors were Peredvizhnik Aleksandr Vladimirovich Makovsky and Aleksandr Petrovich Aleksandrov.
He worked sporadically as an actor, ballet dancer and stage painter. In 1915, he worked as a scenographer for the Prince Oldenburg Opera Theatre.
15 March (2 March O.S.) 1917 – Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.
7 November (25 October O.S.) 1917 – The Russian Revolution. The Bolsheviks, under the leadership of Lenin, seize power. Start of the Russian Civil War.

1918–1921

The artist’s father, Baron Lavrentii Löwendal, died in 1918 – reportedly in an attempt to save the family of Tsar Nicholas II (subsequently executed in the summer of 1918). In the same period, the artist’s mother, Lyubov Gavrishova, was deported to Uzbekistan.

Löwendal followed his mentor, Professor Aleksandrov, to Bessarabia. He discovered his passion for animation theatre in the city of Soroca. He created his first marionettes and wrote several puppet plays together with his fiancée, Ariadna Ambrozieva, staging several shows for children. In Chişinău, he worked as a painter and scenographer for various theatre companies, creating scenery with motifs inspired by Russian folklore (lubok). He also created decorative panels for the Pavilion of the Assembly of the Nobles.
9 April (27 March O.S.) 1918 – Following the Act of Union voted by the National Assembly in Chişinău, Bessarabia became part of the Kingdom of Romania.

28 November (15 November O.S.) 1918 – The General Congress of Bukovina, assembled in the Synod Hall of the Metropolitan Palace of Cernauti, passed the Act of Union of Bukovina with the Kingdom of Romania.

1921

Löwendal went on to marry Ariadna Ambrozieva in Chişinău. Ariadna Ambrozieva, originally from Tula (Russia), was a student at the Law School of Odessa. Poet, writer, concert musician, and – later on – teacher of foreign languages and canto, she would stand by Löwendal her entire life, acting also as a competent critic and adviser.

1921–1925

The young Löwendal family settled in Bucharest, where the artist would learn Romanian.

He worked as a painter scenographer and director for several summer theatres and vaudeville theatres: Cărăbuş, Grădina Blanduziei, Carol the Great (later on called Eforie).

Löwendal was invited to work with well-known members of the Romanian interwar theatre world: the Bulandra Company and the Central Theatre, where the Vilna Troupe was quartered for several seasons in Bucharest. At the Central Theatre he worked with director Jacob Sternberg, a supporter of the synthetic theatre and author of several legendary experimental theatre stagings.

Löwendal established himself as a graphic artist in this period, publishing in the cultural press numerous drawings and caricatures.

28 October 1923 – Lydia, his first daughter, is born (d. 2006).
13 June 1925 – Irina, his second daughter, is born (d. 1995).

1926–1935

Löwendal was part of the first collective exhibition of scenography in the interwar period, organised by the art critic Ștefan Nenițescu at the “Hasefer” bookstore in Bucharest. This experience made his name as one of the most valuable scenewrights in Romania. Other exhibitors were Theodor Kiriacoff-Suruceanu, Marcel Janco, M.H. Maxy etc.

Accepting an engagement as a scenewright and technical director at the National Theatre of Cernauti (at that time, the youngest theatre company with state subsidies), he left Bucharest. He settled with his family in the cosmopolitan capital of the Bukovina region.

In Cernauti he worked with some of the best theatre professionals of his generation: Victor Ion Popa (appointed artistic director of the theatre), Aurel Ion Maican, George Mihail Zamfirescu – animators of interwar Romanian theatre life, to whom he was drawn by their innovative vision of performing arts. Thanks to his collaboration with these directors, the Cernauti stage was propelled to the forefront of Romanian avant-garde theatre.

For the opening of the 1926–1927 season, Löwendal devised and executed a front cloth which garnered critical acclaim in the press of the time.

He also worked on an innovative staging of Crime and Punishment, after Dostoyevsky, introducing a technical innovation – a sliding wagon.

Löwendal played a decisive role in establishing the first professional puppet and marionette theatre in Romania, which was inaugurated as a section of the National Theatre of Cernauti on May 1, 1928. The mixed bill show staged on that occasion presented The Impresario and Bastien and Bastienne – comic operas in one act by W. A. Mozart. The dolls, costumes and scenery, as well as the front cloth for the small animation theatre, were created by Löwendal.

In this period, during the 1927–1928 season, he also devised the scenery for R.U.R. by Karel Čapek, the first staging of a science-fiction play in Romania. On this occasion Löwendal built the first revolving stage in Romania.

At the same time, Löwendal worked as a painter. The peasants and monasteries of Bukovina became recurring motifs in his artwork.

1931–1933

In 1931, Löwendal established the Fine Arts Society of Bukovina, named The Friends of Art, and participated in the first Autumn Exhibition organised under its aegis.

In 1932, he was part of an exhibition of painters from the Moldavia region, organised under the aegis of the Fine Arts Academy of Iaşi.

In 1933, he exhibited 89 paintings in the National Palace of Cernauti.

1934

Löwendal had a major triumph in Timişoara with the scenery for Land of Smiles by Franz Lehár. As a tribute, the city authorities offered one of the cannon balls preserved in the History Museum of the Banat region, an object which marked the participation of his ancestor, Ulrich Frederik Voldemar, Count of Løvendal, in the fight for the liberation of Timişoara from Ottoman occupation (1716).

1935–1940

September–October 1935: the first major personal exhibition at the Mozart Hall in Bucharest (oil paintings, drawings, watercolours). On this occasion, the critics’ response established him as a major exponent of Romanian fine arts.

In 1936, Leo van Puyvelde, president of the International Art History Committee, bought the painting Peasant with broken hat (1935) for the Brussels Museum of Modern Art.

In the same year, Löwendal organised a painting exhibition in Vatra Dornei (Bukovina); and in the fall, he exhibited 141 works in the Carol II Museum of Cernauti, an event with remarkable reverberations in the newspapers and journals of the time.

In 1937, Löwendal resettled definitiv in Bucharest with his family. He participated with various artworks (posters) in all the exhibitions of the Romanian National Tourist Office, both in Romania and abroad.

Although less and less involved in theatre projects, he worked again with Jacob Sternberg and devised the scenery for the companies led by the director: Sidy Thal Troupe and Jewish Theatre Studio of Bucharest.

1942–1943

In 1942, Löwendal spent a short period as a scenographer for the National Theatre of Craiova.

In 1943, he went to Bukovina to paint. He subsequently opened the very successful exhibition at the Universe Hall in Bucharest. All eighty paintings exhibited were sold.

In the same year his work was part of an exhibition of Romanian art in Venice.

1944–1945

In 1944, Löwendal started his collaboration with the Bucharest National Opera, designing the scenery for Tosca by Giacomo Puccini and Casanova, a comic opera by Mihail Daia.

1945–1946

In 1945, Löwendal contributed with stage models and sketches to the establishment of the “Țăndărică” Theatre in Bucharest, the first professional puppet and marionette theatre in postwar Romania.

Later on he was part of the Official Autumn Salon of Bucharest and he also created a personal exhibit (portraits of peasants from Bukovina) in the halls of the Romanian Parliament.

In 1946, he organised an exhibition in the Ghelari iron mine of Hunedoara County, an original event to be organised in Romania in those times.

1947–1948

On the occasion of Löwendal’s fiftieth birthday, the press paid him homage as a major cultural figure.

In 1947, King Michael of Romania conferred on him the “Cultural Merit” order, with the rank of officer.

He was part of the Annual Fine Arts Exhibition of Bucharest and taught artistic perspective at the Romanian Architects Union.

1949–1950

In 1949, Löwendal was a founding member of the Romanian Fine Arts Union and the Fine Arts Fund.

He also became artistic adviser for the Institute of Metallurgic Research of Bucharest, for which he created a series of industrial-themed compositions.

1950–1957

During this period, Löwendal worked as a university professor for the Institute of Fine Arts “Nicolae Grigorescu” of Bucharest.

He took part in the Annual Fine Arts State Exhibitions (1953 and 1954).

During the summer of 1954, Löwendal held open classes for his students in the medieval citadel of Sighişoara.

11 November 1954 – His wife, Ariadna Löwendal, died. In the following years, the artist would be focused on editing Ariadna’s literary works, as well as editing his own writings. He published a couple of autobiographical stories in several magazines.

Starting in August 1955, Löwendal began to sign his works GLA (adding an A from his wife’s name to his own initials).

1957–1964

During this period Löwendal participated with several portraits in successive editions of the Interregional Fine Arts Exhibition of Iaşi.

Each summer he continued to paint numerous landscapes and portraits of peasants in Bukovina.

1964

2 January – Löwendal’s grandaugher Ariadna, Irina’s daughter, is born in Bucharest.

18 February – George Löwendal died suddenly.
He is buried in the St. Friday cemetery in Bucharest.
 
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