Hugo Naudé was South Africa’s pioneer impressionist painter. He received his professional art education at the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1889 – 1890) and the Kunst Akademie in Munich (1890 – 1894) and spent a year amongst the Barbizon painters in Fontainebleau near Paris. Born and raised in the Boland town of Worcester, Naudé became South Africa’s first professional artist, establishing “Cape Impressionism”, an adaptation of European Impressionism, in conjunction with the artists Pieter Wenning, Nita Spilhaus, Ruth Prowse and Strat Caldecott. After his European training, Naudé had to adapt to the sunlit brilliance of the African landscape and as “plein-airste” gradually loosened the bonds of his formal training – pioneering a truly South African style which has been maintained by a second and third generation of artists.
When Hugo Naudé returned to South Africa in 1896, after 6 years of formal art training and study in Europe (1889-1895) he initially tried to establish himself as a portrait painter for which he had received expert training from the great Franz von Lenbach in Munich. The prevailing artistic climate proved this idea to have been too optimistic, and thus began a gradual transition in subject matter from portrait to landscape.
Naudé’s total sincerity as a man and his integrity as an artist is evident in his oeuvre of work reflecting his submission to the attraction of nature and the landscape which evidently also suited his temperament. Applying his technical skills acquired from his formal art training, he tried to reflect the soul of the African landscape by capturing the dramatic tensions of nature in light and atmosphere by means of strong contrasts. This proved to be a lonely struggle as he had to adapt his palette and technique to suit the brilliant sunshine and colours the local landscape confronted him with. His determination and perseverance resulted in a unique style of landscape painting where the open-air freshness of the work, the confident brushstrokes of individually mixed colours and the underlying sense of composition always captured the atmosphere and brilliance of the scene.
Please click here for images of artwork by Hugo Naude