Lesser Ury, Evening Rain
Lesser Ury (1861-1931) was a German-Jewish painter and printmaker, generally considered to be an Impressionist artist. Raised in Berlin, Ury left school to pursue a trade after the death of his father, a baker. However he soon traveled to Düsseldorf to study painting. After his studies, Ury spent time traveling and stayed in Paris and Brussels for extended periods of time. He returned to Berlin in 1887 and had his first exhibition. He received a hostile reaction, but received a medal due to the influence of Adolph Menzel, the foremost German artist of the time. In both Berlin and Munich, Ury was a member of the Secessionist movements to promote modern art and the avant-garde. Much of Ury's work resembles Impressionism quite clearly. He frequently painted landscapes and interior scenes. Some of his landscapes have a more modernist appearance, showing the influence of avant-garde art movements in Germany. At times he tended toward even greater abstraction, to beautiful and dizzying effect. Paintings of cafes at night are among his best known works, as are rainy urban scenes. Evening Rain clearly falls into the latter category, and it is a very interesting example of the genre. This painting shows the street soaked in a downpour, blurring the forms of the scene. People generally are indistinct shapes, especially in the background. One of the most interesting elements of the piece is the use of reflections on the wet street. For both the horses' legs and the people's, the reflections serve to lengthen their legs and make them appear strangely distorted. By doubling their limbs this way, Ury doubled the vertical raindrops by elongating the people and horses. The color here is masterfully utilized; the scene is mostly neutral tones, with a dark grey bridge, a greenish-grey street, and brown and black figures. However the woman at the foreground is a startlingly prominent exception. Her blue dress focuses the entire painting and immediately draws the eye. She is an oasis of color on this shabby street.