Walter Sauer

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Biography of Walter Sauer ( 1889-1927 )

Born in 1889 Saint-Gilles (Brussels), Walter Sauer was a Belgian draftsman, painter and engraver. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, and in Constant Montald’s class of decorative painting from 1906 to 1907, where he won a first prize for decorative composition. At this time, Sauer met Murakami, a Japanese man who owned an antique shop and introduced him to the art of Japanese prints and calligraphy.

In 1911, thanks to a scholarship obtained with the Charles Buls Foundation, he traveled through France (Paris, Lyon, Marseille) and Italy. On his return to Belgium, he studied for the academic year 1911-1912 modeling courses of ancient figures and finally decided to devote himself to drawing and painting. 

Walter Sauer took part in the annual Salon de la Libre Esthétique in 1914, as well as at the Triennial Salon in Brussels for which he created a large decorative painting. He won the second prize in the Godecharle contest with the work "L'Atlantide". 

His fragile health led the artist to devote himself gradually to drawing. He thus drew many feminine nudes, the woman being at the center of his work. He exhibited at many “ Salon du Nu ” in Belgium and several personal exhibitions were devoted to him especially in Brussels in 1919 and in Ghent in 1920. He remained nevertheless active as a painter decorator.

Sauer acquired an international reputation as a decorator in the 1920s. He represented Belgium at the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris, which linked his name to the Art Deco movement. He was permanently appointed as professor of decorative art at the School of Industrial and Decorative Arts of Ixelles in 1926. In 1927, the banker Baron Allard asked him to decorate a Byzantine style room with scenes from the life of Christ. Sauer left Belgium at the end of June and visited Spain and Algeria to seek inspiration.

The woman was at the center of Sauer's work. She was represented as a nude model, but also as a mysterious figure, often veiled and melancholic, reminiscent of the symbolist  movement. Inspired by his travels, Sauer also made many drawings and watercolors of Breton or Algerian women wearing traditional clothes, as well as women in Japanese outfits. 

The drawings of Walter Sauer were of a great delicacy, both in the line and in the moderate use of colors. Gold or silver leaves were sometimes used in his works.

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