(Saint-Gilles 1889 - 1927 Algiers)
Walter Sauer was a prolific and ambitious artist despite a life afflicted with illness and sorrow. Born in Saint-Gilles to German parents, Sauer’s childhood was plagued by chronic lung problems and the death of his young sister. Unable to play outside like other children, he spent his early years in the family library poring over art history books. At the age of fourteen he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels to study decorative painting.
Sauer was influenced by several teachers in his life, most notably the Symbolist artists Emile Fabry, Jean Delville and Constant Montald. In addition to his studies at the Academy he befriended the Asian Art antiquarian Murakami, who introduced him to Japanese printmaking and calligraphic techniques. An excellent student, Sauer also earned multiple grants and prizes that afforded him the opportunity to travel to France and Italy to study the great masterworks.
Due to the outbreak of World War I and the increasingly fragile state of his health, Sauer gradually stopped painting around 1916 and devoted himself to drawing. He turned his artistic focus to the female figure, which he approached with an exceptionally astute and nuanced subjectivity. During this time Sauer developed special decorative methods such as pre-treating sheets with wax and applying gold and silver leaf to the backgrounds of his drawings. In 1923 Sauer was internationally recognized at numerous important exhibitions, including the first edition of the Mostra Internazionale delle Arti Decorativa in Milan, the fifth edition of the Salon des Sculpteurs et Peintres de Figures, and at the Cercle Artistique et Littéraire, both in Brussels.