January 22nd, 2021

Artist displayed versatility

By Submitted Article on March 10, 2020.

By Mary-Beth Laviolette

Known as a landscape artist, Ernest Riethman addressed a variety of subjects in different media, including his sensitive treatment of Clara, his spouse, in blended shades of graphite. Clara and Ernest had four children, including Ruth Clara, Susie Bertha, Lloyd Swiss and Stephen Edward, two of whom are the subjects of portraits on display at the Galt.

Riethman continued his work as an interior decorator, and in 1960 he established Riethman and Hudson Decorating Ltd. with his son-in-law, Ken Hudson.

Riethman was actively involved with the Lethbridge Sketch Club, teaching and sometimes lecturing in interior design and the arts. Exhibition opportunities also increased. In 1959, a Riethman painting travelled to the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto) and as part of a touring exhibit to Munich, Germany and other European centres.

Praised by Canadian artist Bart Pragnell for his “high calibre” artistry with a “thoroughness and technical excellence sometimes missing in contemporary work,” Riethman was able to incorporate these aspects of his training and experiment with modernist developments in art such as impressionism, cubism and abstraction. There was also what he knew about the Group of Seven’s less-detailed approach to landscape. As his larger-scale paintings show, stylistically, he never seemed to sit still.

Reithman painted a striking self-portrait in oil in 1964. This painting is also on display in the exhibit. At nearly 70 years old, Riethman’s studied gaze is fixed on the viewer. The light bathes one side of his face, creating a strong contrast between light and dark. The artist died of an aneurysm later that year.

Come explore “A Painter’s Paradise” at the Galt Museum & Archives, on display until May 10.

Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.

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