Leon Dabo




Leon Dabo

From top to bottom: The River Seine (c. 1900), The Seashore (c. 1900), Evening on the Hudson (1909), The Hudson in Winter (1910)

“Leon Dabo’s own descendants have heard little about him. Dabo, a French-born painter, died in 1960, at 96, after a restless career living in and around New York and in Europe and exhibiting in hundreds of group and solo shows. His early subjects were saints, and later he favored twilit riverbanks, battlefields, bouquets and eerie pastures striped with dead trees.

Dabo ended up estranged from his family, and he has largely fallen off the radar of art historians. Albert Douglas, 91, Dabo’s only grandson, told art dealers during a recent filmed interview that he hardly knew his grandfather. He does remember a debonair gentleman fond of expensive liqueurs and chronically short of cash who could “paint like a stream.”

In Dabo’s seven-decade career he hobnobbed with celebrities like Marc Chagall and George Bernard Shaw. At the 1913 Armory show in New York, Theodore Roosevelt admired Dabo’s scene of a Canadian snowfall. Helen Hay Whitney wrote a poem about the canvas’s “old lost stars to rise and gleam” and “secret, haunting theme.”

Major institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Newark Museum and the Brooklyn Museum acquired his work. But he has had few shows since his death, partly because so many of his significant works and archival material were hidden away. Stephanie Ofental Dabo did donate some of his papers to institutions like the Smithsonian and the New York Public Library. But her collection of hundreds of paintings by her husband ended up bequeathed to a sister and then a succession of family friends, inaccessible to scholars.”

-excerpted NYT Article by Eve M. Kahn

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