Sunday, February 22, 2004

Rau Collection masterpieces to be displayed in Dayton

By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Dayton Art Institute on Sept. 4 will open From Fra Angelico to Bonnard: Masterpieces from the Rau Collection, nearly 100 master paintings from one of the world's most distinguished collections. Spanning nearly six centuries, the show will include rarely seen works by El Greco, Gainsborough, Cezanne, Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cassatt.

"The Dayton Art Institute is one of a small, select group of museums to showcase this spectacular exhibition on its first and only American tour," says Alex Nyerges, museum director and CEO. "Most of the paintings have never been shown in public before. This is a rare opportunity to see spectacular works by some of the world's greatest artists."

The exhibit, culled from the Rau's collection of 800 works of art, will include El Greco's "Saint Dominic in Prayer"; Canaletto's "Saint Mark's Square"; "The Sea at Estaque" by Paul Cezanne; Auguste Renoir's "Woman with a Rose" and six paintings by Claude Monet, among them "The Wooden Bridge."

Half the works are Old Master paintings from the 15th to early 19th centuries and the other half represents art from the mid-19th through the mid-20th centuries.

The paintings represent the 40-year passion of collector Dr. Gustav Rau (1922-2002).

Rau was almost as colorful as his paintings. The son of a wealthy German industrialist, he returned to school at 40 to become a pediatrician, while continuing to run the family business. When his father died he inherited the factories, but sold them to set up a medical foundation "to diminish misery and disease in Third World countries."

Rau worked first in Nigeria, then in Zaire. In 1977, he built a hospital in a remote village on the Zaire/Rwanda border. The hospital cared for 2,000 patients a year and distributed food to more than 8,000 people a day. In 1992, when the unmarried and childless doctor was 70, he discontinued his work because of the Rwandan civil war. He died in 2002 near Stuttgart, where he was born.

The show will run through Jan. 16.

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