Renowned painter’s work to be displayed DowntownWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
You might not have heard of Robert Heindel, but he’s a household name for the Royal British family and members of Japanese royalty.
The Toledo native, who graduated from Central Catholic High School in the 1950s, rose to international fame in the 1970s with his paintings of ballet dancers and opera actors and actresses. Andrew Lloyd Webber commissioned him to paint scenes of “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera” during dress rehearsals. He painted depictions of dancers in Kabuki theater in Japan. Princess Diana collected a number of his paintings.
His work is permanently on display at the Smithsonian Institution, the Glasgow Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Before his death, his paintings sold for as much as $55,000 and now they’re selling for $130,000 in the UK, said Colin Rawlings, Heindel’s former agent.
“He’s America’s best-kept secret,” Rawlings said. “He’s celebrated in Japan, he’s celebrated in Europe, but for one reason or another, America never really got it.”
With the goal of telling Heindel’s story so Toledoans can “get it” too, Sur-Saint Clair, at the corner of Washington Avenue and St. Clair Street, will display 25-30 of Heindel’s paintings starting July 18. The gallery will also have original paintings for sale during the course of the exhibition.
The gallery’s goal is to raise $7,000 to cover shipping costs and other fees, as his paintings are coming from all over the country. Richard Rideout and his wife Janet Albright run the gallery.
Major donors will have the opportunity to meet Heindel’s wife, Rose, at the VIP gathering on July 18, Rideout said.
Heindel broke into the art industry by illustrating cars for automobile companies and drawing for magazine covers including TIME and Ladies’ Home Journal.
Rose dragged him to a ballet performance in Detroit shortly after they married and left Toledo in 1963. Although initially unenthusiastic about attending, Heindel was instantly drawn to the dancers’ figures and form.
From then on he became known for painting subtle yet emotional depictions of dancers during rehearsals. But he didn’t just paint their movements, Rawlings said, Heindel took care to weave the subject’s mood and personality into his art.
“He got under the skin of the person he was looking at,” Rawlings said. “If they were having a bad day, you could see it in the drawing.”
Contact Sur-Saint Clair at (419) 241-7100 for more information.