Three dozen original Emile Lahner pieces donated to Whitman College

Emile LahnerWhitman College will celebrate the addition of 36 original drawings and paintings by European artist Emile Lahner to its permanent collection with a special reception this month. 

The grouping was collected over the years by Whitman College alumnus John Peterson '54 and his wife Janet, who purchased their first Lahner work - a small floral - in 1964. Although the Petersons shared pieces from their private Lahner collection with the Whitman community in two smaller exhibitions - in 1979, as part of a Sheehan Gallery exhibition entitled School of Paris, the 20th Century and in 2009 as The Art of Collecting - this more robust collection will remain at Whitman College, with pieces already on extended display throughout the College's Memorial Building.

"While in California, the Petersons became close to a gallery owner who represented Lahner, and over a number of years they continued to purchase Lahner's work from this gallery," explained Daniel Forbes, Director of Whitman's Sheehan Gallery. "Between the gallery owner and the Petersons, they have the largest collection of Lahner's works," Forbes continued. Both John and Janet Peterson will be present at the Apr. 15 reception.

Emile Lahner was born in 1893 in Hungary and began painting at an early age. In the aftermath of World War I, he fled his native country and eventually settled in France. Here, he became part of the "School of Paris," a group of artists working in Paris between 1900 and 1940. During his artistic career Lahner exhibited his works in Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Boston.

Known for a vast range of stylistic expressions, Lahner continued making art up until his death in 1980. Through his work, one can trace the artistic movements occurring in Europe over the course of his lifetime, including the Art Nouveau, Constructivist, Synthetic and Non-objective art movements in Eastern Europe, as well as the influences of Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism that shaped the trajectory of art through the 20th century.

The special event, free and open to the public, will take place in Whitman's Memorial Building from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Apr. 15, 2014.